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Tumbet is the term used to describe various baked eggplant dishes, potato dishes and ratatouille stews that are prevalent in the Spanish cuisine of Majorca. While there are many different variations of tumbet, the basic preparation method for this baked vegetarian dish is quite simple and consists of layering the vegetables before they are put in the oven. Tumbet may be eaten as a side dish for meat and fish, but is also often served as a vegetarian main dish.
The main ingredients required to make tumbet are potatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, pepper, cayenne, cheese and salt. The vegetables are washed and chopped into small pieces; the potatoes are peeled, but not the eggplants and the peppers. Some olive oil is poured into a frying pan and heated. The chopped potatoes, eggplants, and peppers are each separately fried in the oil and then removed from the pan and placed aside on paper towels to soak away any excess oil.
The tomatoes are first pureed and then cooked with crushed garlic cloves in olive oil until a thick tomato sauce is obtained. Salt, pepper and cayenne are added to the sauce as it cooks to give it the required flavor. Some cheese can be added to the sauce as well.
In traditional Spanish cuisine, tumbet is cooked or baked in a wide mouthed terracotta pot called grixonera; the terracotta is said to add a particular flavor to the vegetable dish. The inside of the terracotta pot is brushed with olive oil and the fried vegetables are placed in layers on top of each other. Melted cheese and the thick tomato sauce can be poured evenly between each layer, as well as over the top. The dish is then placed in an oven and baked at a high temperature for about half and hour. After the baking is done, the tumbet dish is allowed to cool for a while before it is ready to be served.
The dish can make for quite a colorful presentation on the table, with the reds of the tomatoes, the purple of the eggplants and the red or green of the peppers. In addition to these traditionally used vegetables, various other vegetables can also be used to make tumbet. The dish is very popular in Majorca, appreciated by locals and visitors alike, and is regularly featured on many of the restaurant and hotel menus there.
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