We came across a bountiful selection of eggplant at area markets in the past week. 99 Ranch Market (1005 Blalock Rd on the north side of Katy Freeway in Spring Branch) had a big selection of bright purple Asian eggplants; they are longer and thinner than the dark variety normally on sale. They also taste very sweet. Canino’s had a shipment of baby white eggplant, which we also wanted to try in a healthy recipe.
You might recall we’ve suggested an eggplant pizza recipe before but this time we wanted to try something new.
We found an excellent healthy recipe from VeggieBelly, which is in turn adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s book, How to Cook Indian. As the website name suggests, this is a vegetarian version. We used all three types of eggplant when cooking this recipe — the long bright blue Asian variety, the eggshell white variety and the regular aubergine eggplant — and the result was a bit sweeter and more delicate than using the regular eggplant alone.
|Tomatoes||3 medium whole tomatoes|
|Cashew Nuts||6 whole nuts|
|Butter, Ghee of Vegetable Oil||1 tablespoon|
|Eggplant||1/2 pound white or purple|
|Ginger Paste||1/2 teaspoon|
|Garlic Paste||1/2 teaspoon|
|Garam Masala||1/4 teaspoon|
|Chili Powder||1/4 teaspoon or to taste|
|Whole Lemon||1 medium, to make 1 teaspoon juice|
If you want to add the smoked flavor, you’ll need access to a BBQ or a gas stove and these items:
|Charcoal (must NOT have additives or be self-igniting)||one large piece (lemon-size)|
|Vegetable Oil||1 teaspoon|
Of course if you are going to be barbequing other foods on a charcoal grill, you won’t need to purchase anything additional, just place the cooked eggplant dish on a low heat area and ‘borrow’ the smoke while you cook your other items.
|Boil whole tomatoes in water. When the skins start to blister, remove from heat, drain and set aside to cool off. Peel the skins, remove the core, then add them to the blender. Add the cashew nuts. Puree and set aside.
Peel the eggplant (optional) then cube into 1″ squares. Heat the butter/ghee or oil in a skillet until it melts and shimmers, then brown the eggplant for 4 minutes. Add ginger paste and garlic paste. Stir 2 more minutes on medium heat. Add garam masala and chili powder and cook for a scant 30 seconds more. Then pour in the tomato puree from the blender and add an (optional) touch of salt.
Boil mixture in the skillet for up to 7 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked and the sauce thickens. If the eggplant is not cooked but the sauce is thickening too fast, add a bit of water.Turn off heat and taste curry. Add lemon juice (squeezed from whole lemon) to taste.
Optional Smoke Flavor:
If you are barbequing outside, you can take this mixture and set it inside your grill for a few minutes away from the heat to add a smoked flavor.If you are cooking inside, you’ll need a gas stove. Separate the cooked eggplant in the skillet to make room for a small metal bowl. The bowl needs to be shallow enough to cover the skillet with a lid (to hold in the smoke). Turn on your exhaust fan and hold a piece of charcoal (use pure charcoal, not the kind with self-igniting chemicals!) with long tongs over an open flame until it gets red hot. Then drop it into the small bowl inside your skillet and add a touch of vegetable oil so it starts smoking. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the smoke infuse the curry for 5 minutes or so. Remove the piece of charcoal — dowse it with water to cool it completely before discarding.
Serve your smoked curry eggplant with rice, naan or roti!