Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eggplant with Curry and Cilantro

I tend to be ambivalent about big purple eggplants -- on the one hand, they're so delightfully purple, and can sometimes taste wonderful grilled. On the other hand, I find it suspicious and worrying when vegetables bite back. Japanese eggplants and other smaller varieties lack the bitterness and tough skins of their fat purple cousins, and often seem more buttery and flavorful, and are especially addictive in curries or (in this case) recipes vaguely inspired by the notion of a curry.

Eggplant (We used three smallish purple-and-white ones, which may have been an Italian variety called Listada de Gandia, but Japanese eggplant would certainly work here and a regular eggplant might too)
Olive oil
A little chopped yellow onion
A scattering of black mustard seeds
Small spoonful of good-quality curry powder
A few thin slices of fresh ginger, julienned
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Splash of cream (optional)

Cut the eggplants into pieces (if you're using a smaller variety, try cutting them in half lengthwise and then (still lengthwise) into half again or wedges, then turn 180 degrees and slice into one-inch pieces).

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat, add the mustard seeds and then the onion, and saute until soft. Push to the side of the pan, add a little olive oil to the opposite side, and turn up the heat a bit. Add the curry powder to the olive oil and stir a few times to toast, then combine with the onion. Add the ginger and a pinch of salt, stir once or twice, then add the eggplant and a little more olive oil if the pot has gotten dry. Stir and saute for a minute or two, then add a little water (a quarter cup or less), stir, cover, and turn the heat down to medium or medium-low. Simmer for 3-8 minutes, stirring from time to time and adding a little more water if needed, until the eggplant is soft but not mushy. Add the cilantro when it's almost cooked through.

Turn off the heat, add just a small splash of cream if desired, and serve hot.

Serves 2.

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