Eggplant isn't easy to like at first glance. It isn't immediately gratifying to the taste buds like a crisp apple or a piece of freshly picked sweet corn. The vegetable's appeal reveals itself in stages. For starters, eggplant absorbs sauces, oils and seasoning like a sponge, taking on liquid at several times it own weight, which pays dividends. The addition of heat plus time elevates eggplant to a whole new dimension of flavor, rewarding diners with a sensation of rich and nutty goodness that rolls over the tongue in waves.
This Indian-inspired curry dish achieves this blissful state by roasting the eggplant to the point of caramelization. The judicious addition of spice and sautéed vegetables provides warmth and complexity. Given the few steps required to make this dish, it's well worth the effort.
Don't be deterred by the messiness factor. By the time you're done, the curry dish will look like it has been trampled by a goat rodeo. A handful of fresh cilantro improves the plate appeal, and the fork- to-mouth action will dispel any remaining qualms.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yields: Feeds 4 to 6
Equipment you'll need
- Chef's knife
- Large mixing bowl
- Cutting board
- Baking sheet
- Kitchen mitt or towel
- 4 tbs. + 1 teaspoon light olive, or canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 medium-sized eggplants, cubed
- 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
- 1 large plum tomato, halved and quartered
- 2 Anaheim peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbs. fresh ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tbs. curry powder
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/4 bundle cilantro, loosely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut eggplant into even sized cubes, about 1 inch. Combine with 2 tbs. oil and salt and fold. Lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon oil and place eggplant in a single layer. Place baking sheet on lower rack of oven and cook for 20 about minutes, until fork tender and eggplant begins to caramelize.
- Heat remaining 2 tbs. oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, pepper, tomato and ginger. Sauté ingredients until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir cumin and curry powder into sautéed vegetables until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Transfer roasted eggplant from baking sheet to skillet, add yogurt, stir ingredients and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve on a bed of basmati rice.
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