Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Aubergine Curry

I like simple food when I am cooking. Vegetables or pulses with a simple tadka. I have always steered away from curries or anything that involves complex, multiple stages. That being said I love spices… I like the way they are used in Indian food. I can finish up an entire plate of a subzi (vegetable) or dal (lentils and pulses) just to imagine the flavors and the spices used to make it so aromatic.
Now its high time that I take my culinary escapade to the next level of intricate cooking. My current treasure is Camellia Panjabi’s 50Great curries of India. I was looking for a vegetarian curry with basic spices available in everyday kitchen... Finally selecting ‘Aubergine Curry’ as the first recipe
After one and half hours of chopping, roasting, grinding, sauteing, sweating and cooking the result was just rich, flavorful, aromatic and delectable.
Although the recipe calls for good quantity of coconut and onion, the flavor of limited spices still remain intact. The key is to give each stage it’s time to complete the process. Sweating the onion for 25 minutes, sautéing the curry paste in it for 15 minutes… at the end of each stage comes distinct aromas and that will keep you going to find the final taste. I highly recommend giving this one a try. Also it’s so versatile that aubergies can be replaced by your choice of vegetables: potatoes, mushroom, paneer (cottage cheese), plantain.
I would adjust the taste a bit by reducing tamarind to 20gms and adding 3 tbsp of kashmiri red chili powder for more heat and beautiful red colour. You can have it with simple steamed rice or Indian bread.

Aubergine Curry
Recipe: Adapted from 50 Great curries of India
Total time: 90 minutes
Serves 4 


40g tamarind pulp 

500g baby aubergines

½ fresh coconut grated, or 125g frozen

6 whole red chillies

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

4 tablespoons oil 

¼ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped

8-10 curry leaves

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

400g onions, chopped

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves, to garnish 

Salt to taste
1) Soak the tamarind in 100ml of hot water for at least 30 mins.
2) Make two incisions, like a cross, halfway up each aubergine. Cut off the stems. Soak in water with a pinch of salt for 15 minutes, to reduce the natural bitterness.
     3) On a heated griddle toast the coconut for 5-6 minutes, then add the chillies and     coriander seeds and toast for 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin and toast for 1 minute. Put in a small grinder and grind to a paste, adding a little water.
      4) Heat the oil in a cooking pot and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the garlic, ginger and curry leaves, then add the onions and turmeric. After 25 minutes, add the spice paste and sauté for a further 10-15 minutes, adding a little water if the spices stick.
      5) Add 400ml of water, stir well, add salt to taste, and the aubergines, then cover. After 15 minutes add the tamarind water (after squeezing the tamarind and straining it).
       6) Cook until the aubergines are tender, then remove from the heat and sprinkle with the coriander leaves when serving.

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