Here in the Bay the eggplant season is under way with most fruit at the moment being of medium sized (about 400g). As the summer progresses the fruit (which is used and usually referred to as a vegetable) will get larger and you may only need one for this recipe.
Eggplants or aubergines are a favourite ingredient in many cuisines – if looking for ways to cook and serve it look to the cuisines of Italy, Indian and the Middle East.
The eggplant is native to India where it is called binjal and in Italy where it is also much loved it is called melanzana.
This curry is more fragrant than hot however you can ramp up the heat by using more chilli, but as the curry is packed with plenty of other spices – fennel and cumin seeds, ground coriander and turmeric as well as fresh garlic and ginger – the chilli can be omitted if you wish. As with most curries this one is ever better the next day, so look forward to any leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
Fragrant Eggplant Curry
Keep ginger and chillies in the freezer to have on hand when you need them. Both freeze well and can be used directly from the freezer. Place the whole ginger root in a resealable plastic bag and grated from frozen on a microplane. Take frozen chillies out of the freezer when ready to use and let stand for 1-2 minutes by which time you will be able to easily slice or chop them.
¼ cup vegetable oil such as rice bran oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fresh long red chilli, sliced (seeded, if desired), or to taste (optional)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 medium (about 800g) eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes
400g can chopped tomatoes
fresh coriander to garnish
1 Place oil and onion in heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes or until onions are a golden brown – take care not to burn and take your time doing this, it adds a rich flavour and depth to the curry.
2 Add garlic, chilli, ginger and fennel and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in coriander and turmeric and cook for 1 minute longer.
3 Add eggplant and stir well to coat with spices. Stir in tomatoes and 1 can water, cover, bring to simmering and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens and eggplant is tender. Season to taste with salt. Serve scattered with coriander leaves.
- Serve as with other vegetable curries and steamed rice as part of a vegetarian meal.
- Delicious served with yogurt marinated lamb, steamed brown rice and steamed spinach.
Lemony Yogurt Marinated Lamb
This simple marinated lamb is an easy accompaniment to the eggplant curry.
1 cup Greek-style natural yogurt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
8 lamb loin chops or lamb steaks
1 Place yogurt, lemon zest and juice, garlic and cumin in a bowl and mix to combine.
2 Add lamb and turn to coat well. Cover and marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Meat can be marinated longer but if so put in refrigerator and take out ½ hour before cooking.
3 Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat until very hot. Drain meat and cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking.
Happy cooking and eating.
Recipes by Rachel Blackmore
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