Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bandora M'li

The English title for this recipe, which is from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, is Sliced tomatoes in a tomato sauce (which is, in fact, exactly what it is).  To me, that doesn't sound very interesting, so I resisted making this dish for a long time, though Madhur Jaffrey raves about it in the header notes to several other recipes in her book.  But finally yesterday I came to my senses, inspired by a few off-the-vine tomatoes the Moon Goddess had given me that had reached their peak of ripeness.  Also, I figured it was time to feature something that doesn't require a trip to an ethnic here's a Middle Eastern meal that is simple, delicious, and can be made with ingredients most of us already have around or can easily obtain. 

Everything shown in this post is from World Vegetarian.  Although I found it frustrating at first, in my current phase of experimentation with different global cuisines I'm liking its arrangement by ingredient rather than by ethnicity.  The bandora m'li recipe, for instance, is bracketed by a tomato sambal from Sri Lanka and a Greek-ish recipe for tomatoes stuffed with lentils and rice.  How I now work with it is to initially pick an "anchor" recipe based on an ingredient I want to use, in this case tomatoes, then figure that's Middle Eastern and I'd also like to have beans, so I flip through the beans section until I find a Mediterranean-type dish that sounds likely, and then finally ask myself what would go well with all that, and pick a third thing.  I.e., you have to stay focussed: with over 650 recipes, it's easy to get lost in this book.  In this case, all three of the recipes I chose were linked together by the author herself through header notes, which made my researches easier. 

The recipe for the bandora m'li has been posted here (reprinted with permission), complete with header notes, so I'll reproduce it.

Bandora M'li
from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian
serves 2

2 medium tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
5 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and well crushed
1/2 to 1 tsp very finely chopped fresh hot green chile
3/4 cup canned tomato juice (I used ground canned tomatoes with their liquid)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

[A note on freezing: the mise-en-place at the beginning of this post shows some of the ingredients, including parsley, which is frozen.  I'm generally cooking for one, and usually have to buy far more of a thing than I can use right away, so I freeze nearly everything that can be frozen.  Parsley and cilantro freeze extremely well, as do most of the Asian herbs I've been experimenting with, like curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal.  Basil and Thai basil, not so much, unfortunately.  So if you see some of these things and want to try them but are afraid of waste, don't be.  Just cut them up fine and place them in sealed containers in the freezer and they will wait for you.]

Take skin-thin slices off the very top and bottoms of the tomatoes and discard them. Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 3 slices each. Lightly salt and pepper the slices on both sides.

The tomato slices as they go into the pan
Put the oil, garlic, and green chile into a medium, nonstick frying pan set over medium-high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, put in the tomato slices in a single layer and fry lightly, about a minute on each side.

Flip them after a minute
Now put in the tomato juice and parsley and bring to a boil.

I was still kind of unsure about the whole thing...
Turn off the heat and serve.

...but I got over that...
So delicious!  This was served with Lentils with onions and garlic, a very simple lentil dish topped with crisped onions, and the Carrot raita, made with Bryanna Clark Grogan's Bulgarian-style tofu yogurt [see sidebar on the right for the recipe], as well as some bakery Italian bread that tasted better than it looks here.  You can serve it all neatly in little separate dishes:

Or you can do what I did and tip everything into a bowl and mix it all up for maximum messy scoopability:

This is truly one of those meals that you practically inhale it's so good, then wonder where all the leftovers are.


  1. Looks like it would be good w/pita bread as well.

  2. Looks fab, nice and unctuous.

  3. "Unctuous"??? You already used that adjective on my blog, Rose. Time to think of another.

  4. Unctuous is pretty fitting, actually, since I misread the recipe as I am apt to do, and read 5 tbsp oil for the actual 5 tsp. Luckily for me I don't follow recipes exactly...still, the results were pretty unctuous. In a good way.

    And yes, pita bread would have been perfect. Unfortunately, with this book you really never know what you might be making when you start out--I was initially somewhere in Nigeria but ended up in Israel, with no pita bread in sight.

  5. I should file this away for summer, when really good tomatoes are around. I'm thinking beefsteak tomatoes would be amazing. My mouth tingles just thinking about it.