By Kath Dedon
Beautiful Indian (aka “baby”) eggplants from our new Seafood City Supermarket were the inspiration for the Curried Eggplant I made last night. (Seafood City is the “home for Filipino Asian Lifestyle” with many stores in California; this is their first in Washington State. Apparently, it’s the place to go if you want beef knee caps. Don’t look for that one any time soon on this blog.)
Asian markets often carry these little beauties, but you’ll also find them, and many other interesting eggplants, at farmers’ markets. If you can’t find the Indian eggplants, any eggplant will work for this recipe. Just get about a pound and cut into smaller pieces if it’s a large eggplant.
We love eggplant curry, so that’s what I decided to make. I found a recipe in 660 Curries for Baghara Baingan (Fried Baby Eggplant with a Peanut-Coconut Sauce). Raghavan Iyer’s recipe uses a peanut-coconut-sesame seed base. It sounds delicious and I may try Raghavan’s more complicated recipe someday, but last night I wanted something that was quick and easy. So I didn’t make Baghara Baingan; I made my own version of Curried Eggplant.
My Curried Eggplant uses ingredients that are pretty easy to find at most supermarkets; you could easily make substitutions for products that you can’t find. (Examples: Any kind of milk–soy, almond, dairy–for the coconut milk, any cooking oil for the coconut oil, or a large eggplant for the baby eggplants)
This may not be a classic Indian recipe, but it does deliver authentic Indian flavors in an easy version that can be made quickly. And it was sooo good that I know I’ll be making it again soon!
Update September 25, 2010: I made this again with 1 pound of regular globe eggplants (2 small ones) cut into 1-inch cubes. I left the peel on. It wasn’t as “cute” but was equally tasty.
(Inspired by a recipe for Baghara Baingan in 660 Curries)
Serves 2 as a main dish; serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal
8 – 9 (1 pound) baby eggplants (or 1 pound of any kind of eggplant)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut milk (1 small 5.46 oz can)*
Cooked rice, for serving
1. Wash the eggplants, cut off the top and then cut them lengthwise in fourths without cutting all the way through.
2. Combine the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
3. Heat the 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet.
4. When the oil is hot, add the eggplants and cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. They will be tender and soft when done.
5. Remove the eggplants to a paper towel-lined plate.
6. Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil to the pan and cook the onions until they are softened, about 5 minutes.
7. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions, and cook, stirring, for a minute or so until they are fragrant.
8. Add the salt and spices and cook, stirring, for about a minute.
9. Add the coconut milk.
10. Add the eggplants and cook until everything is hot. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over rice.
*In Seattle I can find small 5.46-ounce cans of Thai Kitchen coconut milk at PCC; I find them very handy when I’m cooking for just the two of us.