Monday, October 5, 2009

eggplant curry

This past weekend, JR and I rented a house in a tiny town called
Monte Rio along the Russian River. Our friends Todd and Rachael joined us. The weekend was filled with great conversation and food to match - artisan cheeses, meats, breads and wines. Our lazy mornings were spent enjoying walks, coffee and eggs, and dogs playing on the deck overlooking the river. It was a terrific weekend.

Back to the real world.

In the real world, I'm fighting off a cold (that for the moment I seem to be keeping at bay). And I'm freezing. It's that time of year when I start feeling I need to have a pot of something cooking on the stovetop. I'll admit that the leap from there to eggplant is not an obvious one. But I'm going to try to make it work.

Let me back up one more time. A couple of weeks ago, we were having dinner with Todd and Rachael (as coincidence would have it) in Palo Alto at a Thai restaurant (when it was still warm enough to eat outside...sorry, I digress). We didn't order it at the time, but there was an eggplant curry on the menu that caught my eye. Since then, it's been in the back of my head. Cross that with the fact that eggplant season is nearly over in California (which means I need to pack them in before they disappear from the farmers' market) and with my desire to have something cooking on the stovetop, and viola! - eggplant curry.

I've never made eggplant curry before, so I did what I do in situations like this - I started looking up recipes in my cookbooks and online. Nothing that I found was quite what I was looking for. So I started picking and choosing from different recipes. What resulted is a mixture of ingredients and a preparation that I'm pretty sure have only been combined in exactly this way in cole's kitch.

Eggplant Curry
Serves 4

1 large eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, peeled & minced
3 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. Joe's special spice (a mix of hot red peppers)
1/8 tsp. red chili flakes
14.5 oz. canned diced tomatoes (including juice)
8 oz. vegetable broth
14 oz. unsweetened coconut milk (not lite)
naan or rice
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large pot (I used my Le Creuset soup pot). Add onions and garlic; saute until soft. Add ginger and spices. Stir to incorporate spices and cook for 2 minutes. Add eggplant. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil (don't worry if the liquid doesn't completely cover the eggplant - everything will reduce as it cooks). Reduce heat and simmer, uncover for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.

Serve in large bowls over naan or rice, topped with cilantro.

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