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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Traveler's Eggplant Curry

There is something about eggplant that makes it almost mysterious.  The color.  That deep purple, shiny and sexy that calls you to it.  Come to me, take me home.
The texture.  When raw it is firm and beige.  It behaves like an apple and oxydizes quickly, so you have to have a plan before opening it up.  While cooking it is like a sponge, absorbing any flavor you coat it with.  Once cooked, it becomes creamy, but not shapeless.  The skin left on gives it texture and it will give with just a small amount of bite pressure, releasing all the flavor it absorbed on its journey from the farm to your mouth.
For all these reasons, when I find them on sale and stumble across a recipe making eggplant its star, I don't need to think twice.
This one is from Burma: p. 104.
I adapted it to make it vegan (but the real reason is that I didn't have any anchovies or shrimp paste).  If I did have anchovies, I would have eaten them before being able to use them in a recipe, so it was futile to even think I would use anchovies.
3 Tbsp peanut oil (I used sesame)
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 large minced shallot
 1 Tbsp ginger
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 large tomato, minced
1 lb cubed eggplant (about 2 or 3 medium)
1 cup water
3 tbsp anchovies (sub brown miso)
1 tsp red chili oil (I used red chili paste)
 1.  In a large wok, heat the oil and add the turmeric.   It should fizz.
2.  Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
3.  Add the ginger, miso, and tomato and cook a few minutes until the tomato disintegrates.
4.  Add the eggplant and sesame seeds and stir until all the pieces are evenly coated.
5.  Add the water and chili oil, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until eggplant is fully cooked.  Taste and add salt if needed.  I didn't think it needed any.

This is my first time using miso.  As the book explains, it is a Umami ingredient.  Something used to give a meaty or earthy taste.  Miso and toasted chickpea flour are the vegetarian options for umami.  The non veg versions are shrimp paste, anchovy paste, or fish sauce.
I love learning this type of thing.

This dish was part of a trio, which will be alternating all week, for as I run out of one dish, another will replace it.
Top:  Paneer in Tomato Sauce
Middle: Sweet Corn Soup
Bottom:  Traveler's Eggplant Curry
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  1. Replies
    1. As I said, I didn't have any anchovies so I did what I could. It was still excellent that way..