This is a great curry to make in late summer when the tomatoes are coming to an end and seem better off cooked, and multi colored eggplants are in abundance. I love the way the cooked eggplant here becomes so soft and succulent that it melts in your mouth; the aromatic spices and tangy tomatoes are a nice contrast to their buttery texture.
I had been admiring a bag of gorgeous, shiny black Asian eggplants in my fridge for over a week. I picked them up at the farmers market with one thing in mind- the curry powder I made in June, but it wasn’t until my friend Toni, (The Catskill Kiwi) invited me upstate for a weekend of writing, cooking, and croquet playing that I actually had a chance to get those eggplants into a pot.
Toni and I worked together for many years in different kitchens all over New York City. But this weekend wasn’t about work, it was chance to create and enjoy the luxury of cooking in the country….no external interruptions; no set menu, just fresh air and an amazing view!
The curry is great with plain rice but since we had a leisurely afternoon ahead of us, I put some mung beans on to simmer for a dahl and infused the rice with saffron and cardamom. Toni whipped up a number of new recipes including this tasty raita, which topped off the Indian theme perfectly. The combination of all four dishes was delicious!
1 pound asian or regular eggplant, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 large onion, cut in wedges
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, toss eggplants with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and spread onto tray in a single layer. Roast for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and soft. Set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add mustard seeds stirring until they begin to pop. Stir in onion and sauté for 10 minutes or until translucent, (this takes a while as they were cut in rather large wedges). Add ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes more, stir in curry powder, cayenne pepper and tomatoes.
Turn up the heat to get it simmering, then lower and simmer uncovered until it thickens, about 20 minutes. Add the eggplant and allow to cook (so it can absorb all the flavors) while you play a game of croquet. This could be any length of time depending on how good you are! Just don’t forget to run in and stir it every so often, it only gets better with time!
Mung Bean Dahl
1 cup mung beans
2 inch strip kombu seaweed
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
large pinch sea salt
Wash mung beans and cover with 2 inches of water. Let soak 6 to 8 hours then strain off soaking liquid. Place mung beans in a medium size pot with kombu and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until beans are soft and creamy, remove kombu, if you like (I left mine in) Set aside.
In another pot heat coconut oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric and salt and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in cooked mung beans and simmer, allowing flavors to mingle. Add water to get desired consistency.
Saffron Cardamom Infused Brown Basmati Rice
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 3/4 cups filtered water
large pinch saffron
5 cardamom pods
pinch sea salt
Wash rice, cover with 2 inches of filtered water and soak for 6 to 8 hours. Strain soaking liquid off the rice, rinse and place in a small pot with a tight fitting lid. Add 1 3/4 cups water, saffron, cardamom and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat as low as possible, cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.