Recipe: Philippine Eggplant Fritters

Although eggplant (Solanum melongena) also known as brinjal or aubergine, is cultivated around the world, the plant is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. The petite variety, shown below, is often labeled "Indian eggplant" in grocery stores. While "Indian" is indeed redundant, the small, egg-shaped variety is mainly grown in India, where eggplant is called baingan or kathirikkai.

In both early and modern cookbooks, recipes using eggplant usually advise methods to remove the fruit's natural bitterness, or make it less mushy when cooked. Following the recommendation of a friend of mine from the Philippines, I've found the simplest way to cook small eggplants is to first boil them, then squash the softened eggplants with your palm, dip them in beaten eggs and lightly fry them. The fritters are soft with crispy edges, and not at all bitter. You can use any small eggplant variety for this. To make fritters with a large eggplant, thinly slice the raw eggplant lengthwise, dip slices in beaten egg, and shallow fry.

Philippine Eggplant Fritters

Serves 4


8 small eggplants, halved
2 eggs, beaten and thinned with 1 Tbs water
neutral cooking oil such as canola or grapeseed
sweet chili sauce

1. Add eggplant to boiling water and cook until the tines of a fork easily pierce the skin. Drain the eggplant and place on a kitchen towel to cool completely.
2. When cool, flatten each eggplant half with the palm of your hand. Heat a large frying pan with 2 Tbs oil.
3. Dip each flattened half in the beaten eggs and place in the hot frying pan. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, adding more oil as necessary.
4. Place cooked eggplant on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve hot or at room temperature with sweet chili sauce.

Cooking with Roses

Last August I found a copy of a lovely out-of-print book, The Art of Cooking with Roses (1968) by Jean Gordon. While I waited until roses were again in season (May-June) before testing some recipes, I enjoyed reading Gordon's chapters on rosewater, rose extract, rose syrup, rose petals and rose petal preserves, and rose hips.

A dedicated rose enthusiast, Gordon founded the Rose Museum in St. Augustine, Florida in 1956. She also organized national rose exhibitions in the United States, lectured and published articles on the uses of roses, and was a member of the American Rose Society. Gordon wrote several rose-themed books including Pageant of the Rose, Rose Recipes: Customs, Facts, Fancies, and Immortal Roses: One Hundred Rose Stories, as well as Orange Recipes and Coffee Recipes. Although I could not find any information on the Rose Museum, operated from Gordon's home, the New York Botanical Garden's Library archives include a collection of Jean Gordon's papers: "newspaper clippings, photographs, notes, correspondence, journals, seed catalogs, book reviews, posters, photographic reproductions, booklets, leaflets, bibliographic index cards, and postcards" from the years 1950-80.

The Art of Cooking with Roses by Jean Gordon (New York: Walker & Co., 1968).

The Art of Cooking with Roses is particularly delightful, with uncomplicated recipes from around the world, including Turkish Rice Pudding (Kazandibi), courtesy of the Turkish Embassy, Chestnuts with Coffee Sauce, Indian Nut Custard, Scrambled Eggs with Rose Petals, Pickled Rosebuds, and Black-Eyed Carrots, cooked with black currants, butter and rosewater.

A recipe for crystallized rose petals caught my attention. Dipped in egg whites and dusted with sugar, the fragrant petals become crunchy like a delicate candy- a perfect decoration for cupcakes iced with Gordon's recipe for rose-flavored butter frosting.

Crystallized Rose Petals

Crystallized Rose Petals, from The Art of Cooking with Roses

Select highly scented fresh roses. Wash and dry well. Beat white of one egg to a foam. Dip small pastry brush (or use fingers) in egg white and brush well over sides of rose petals. Be certain that no surplus egg white remains on petal, but that both sides are moist. Shake granulated sugar on both sides and place on tray to dry in refrigerator.

Rose-Flavored Butter Cream Frosting, from The Art of Cooking with Roses


1/2 cup butter
1 lb sifted confectioners' sugar
dash of salt
4-5 Tbs rosewater

Cream butter with salt; add part of the confectioners' sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar alternately with rosewater, beating vigorously after each addition until smooth and creamy. This amount should be enough to cover top and sides of two 9-inch layers, or 15 to 20 cupcakes.

Rose Cream Cupcakes Topped with Crystallized Rose Petals

For more on roses and gardens, including my rosewater recipe, see Rosewater: Essence of the Garden
& A Thousand Damask Roses