Friday, March 7, 2008
Jonesin' for Some Cookin'.
Due to my working a very heavy schedule these last two weeks, I haven't cooked anything more complicated than toast and eggs since I got back from vacation. I'm dying to get in the kitchen, roll up my sleeves and make something deliciously complicated. Something that will smell up my whole house and make my eyes water.
My pick for this weekend is an eggplant and coconut curry that I was introduced to by Andy's sister. It has a huge list of ingredients, which always excites me. It involves going to more than one store, lots of peeling and chopping, roasting, sauteeing, making a spice paste, and leaving overnight before eating. Whew! I'm exhausted already! All that work, and I will likely inhale it in a minute and a half.
You can find this recipe here, on the BBC website, by the way. Here it is, with the English terms changed to American terms, and some comments from me:
1 medium eggplant, about 8¾oz
2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 medium zucchini
14¼oz canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
canned chopped tomatoes
14¼oz unsweetened coconut milk
sea salt, to taste
For the spice paste
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cardamom seeds, about 10 pods
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
2" fresh ginger, peeled roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp turmeric
1-2 chillies, de-seeded, or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tomato, cut into quarters
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
steamed basmati rice
sprigs of coriander
1. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, prick with a fork, and roast in a preheated oven at 425F for about 40 minutes, until soft.
Eggplant does a mysterious thing when it's being roasted whole in a hot oven. It smells slightly like chocolate. Or maybe that's just the LSD I had for breakfast.
Let cool, then peel and discard the skin. Don't worry if a few charred bits remain - this will add extra flavor.
2. To make the spice paste, dry-toast the spice seeds in a frying pan, shaking until they pop and turn lightly golden. Transfer to a blender or spice grinder, add the remaining ingredients, and grind to a smooth paste.
Bring the spice paste to your nose and have a sniff. You should be experiencing an olfactory orgasm right about now.
3. Heat the oil or ghee in a large, heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and cook until softened. Add the spice paste and stir for two minutes to release the aromas, then add the bell pepper, sweet potatoes, zucchini and chickpeas. Add some water to the mixture so it doesn't burn, just about half a cup or so. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, then bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
4. Put the peeled eggplant in a blender, add the coconut milk and pulse to a coarse purée. Add to the pan and bring back to a simmer. Add salt, if necessary. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight.
5. Reheat, then serve with rice, coriander sprigs, yoghurt and mango chutney.
Now, truth be told, I did not bother with coriander sprigs, mango chutney, or yogurt, though I'm sure they would have been gorgeous with it. I made this in the morning and ate it when I got home from rehearsal, so it sat around all day. I must say, this recipe benefitted enormously by sitting and letting the flavors meld.
It was so good, I almost slapped my own ass.
I just had it with some basmati rice.