Saturday, October 19, 2013

Provisioning & Eggplant Brinjal

So as I shared the other day, we moved anchorages and then decided to go provisioning. From where we were anchored we could see the shops just next to us up the top of the hill. It was low tide and there was a long (we know now) mud flat before the mangroves but we could see a rock path leading up through them to the base of the hill. It looked doable, so we went for it. We motored Dingbat in and about 40 ft from the edge of the water, the prop turned up mud. Up with the outboard and out came the oars! Bryce rowed us in until we grounded. He tried getting out to pull us in but with one leg in, the mud came up to his knees so he hopped back in the boat. He then “rowed” us through the mud a bit more until we were truly grounded. At this point we figured the tide was coming in so we could just wait it out. But sitting around with the midgees eating away at us (more me as I am the sacrificial being) didn’t really seem like fun! The bottom of the rock path that we were aiming for was surrounded by oyster beds so Bryce got out our grappling anchor and hauled us in the rest of the way by throwing the anchor and getting it to catch on something.
Bryce was finally able to get out and pull us in the rest of the way. We tied up the boat on one of the higher mangroves, figured we had plenty of time before the tide crept up on us and went to the shops. It was just a small IGA express but we were able to quickly top up our supply of fresh food. When we got back down to water, we couldn’t see Dingbat (uh-oh), but we could hear her banging against a tree. The tide had come up quite a bit and the oyster beds and mud were all covered in water. Bryce waded out to the tree where she had been tied off and tried to pull her gently around to us but she really didn’t want to come. Finally Bryce just gave her a big tug and she came barreling through the mangroves bringing branches with her, like a superhero ready to save the day.  Despite this adventure, we would still do it again with a bit different timing!

View from Aquabat: shops up to the right, path in middle of screen
We are still at the same place. Bryce may need to head home in a few days so we are trying to stay close to civilization. Finally today the wind has picked up. The last few days have been horribly hot and still. This was of course not helped by the midgees presence which meant we kept the boat closed up. We anchored right in the middle of their ideal habitat, mangroves and mud flats! Other ideal scenarios for them include no wind and a full moon, which we had last night. One morning we woke up, opened up the boat and welcomed an infestation of them into the boat. All we could do was build a tent out of a sheet and hid out under it until they were all gone. As I mentioned before, I get bitten a lot and have a really strong reaction to them. I am currently covered in bites and am trying everything we have to stop the itching. Apply cider vinegar seems to have the best results. Bryce doesn’t seem to be as affected by them. Lucky Duck. 

While we were at Garry’s Anchorage, Tim and Bryce did alot of scrounging and it seemed like everything they wanted they found, and some! Tim mentioned that some half bricks would be perfect to put in the bottom of the crab pots to keep them from being taken away with the tide... And there were two half bricks. They found a hatch with a functioning solar fan and shiny hardware, which we left prominently displayed on the side of the boat for a few days in case it belonged to someone nearby but no one claimed it, so Tim got some new parts for his boat. Bryce wanted to make a rudder for the dinghy, well there’s a big sheet of marine ply. Our sturdiest bucket is on it’s last legs, they found a new one! There seemed to be so many things! The weirdest things by far that they came back to the boat with were a sweet potato and an eggplant. They both seemed fine, though the eggplant had a few small bruises which were easy enough to cut out. Presumably, someone didn’t like the bruises in the eggplant threw it overboard? Who knows! We figured it couldn’t hurt to cut them open and check them out. As we were running low on fresh food, I was estatic and I had been craving this particular eggplant dish for some reason. 

In the Solomon Islands, the bigger restaurants are more known for the cuisine, rather than their names. Within the sub-categories (Chinese specifically), the restaurants are known by their names and everyone has their preference. Will we dine at the french, indian, chinese, japanese or the yacht club tonight? There is (was?) one Indian restaurant in town, which was actually Sri Lankan and called the Taj Majal. It was out near the airport so was generally a useful way to pass the time between checking in for a flight and actually flying out. My favorite dish there was called Eggplant Brinjal. Everytime we went we got it and every time it was a little bit different. I once asked the cook how to make it and he told me the recipe which involved deep frying the eggplant three times. This clearly made me feel so much better about eating it and is obviously why it was so delicious! :) I have tried different ways in the past to follow his rather vague instructions and using our washed up eggplant was able to try again! Although the texture was not the same (I didn’t deep fry it!), the flavors were remarkablly similar. This would work really well to be done in a pressure cooker, though I didn’t as I wasn’t really sure where I was going with it!
Eggplant Brinjal

1 large eggplant, halved and finely sliced
4 tsp ground Tumeric
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped/minced
1 in piece ginger, finely chopped minced
2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
1 large chili, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp chili powder
10 curry leaves
2 tsp cumin
4 heaping tsp tomato paste (1 small can)
2 tbsp sweetener (sugar/honey/agave)
Neutral oil (rice bran/sunflower/peanut)

1. Coat sliced eggplant and sprinkle with tumeric and let sit for about 30 min.
2. Cook garlic, ginger, onion, chili, curry leaves, and cumin in enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, put aside.
3. Toss eggplant in ~2 tsp oil to make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Heat small coating of oil in pan, add eggplant. Before it starts to stick to the pan, add spice mixture, tomato paste, 1 cup water and sweetener. Stir well to combine.
4. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce to simmer. It may be necessary to add more water. Dish is done when eggplant is cooked through (about 20 min). Add salt to taste.
5. Serve with rice and lime pickle and enjoy.


  1. Your dinner looks great, especially for a throwaway eggplant, but after all of that, really? no oysters?

    1. The oysters were covered when we got back to the boat!