Eggplant and Potato Curry

Lots of September eggplants mean I am looking for great recipes to enjoy them to the fullest. This happens to be one of my favorite ways to do just that.  It is a vegetable curry, now don’t be put off by that; no long list of spices: only a couple and some fresh ginger in it and it isn’t too spicy or wild tasting. I have simplified it a bit and as a bonus I give you my best eggplant frying tip. Yeap, it is vegetarian but that can be a nice change of pace from all that meat. I serve it over brown rice and it is very satisfying. You can feel virtuous enjoying this savory entree and use all that fresh fall produce.

This recipe came from my favorite Indian cookbook Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon.  This 70’s bible for Indian cookery is out of print and very pricey to buy on line. I have used literally dozens of recipes from it. She knows her spices and chooses great recipes that always work.

You can use big fat eggplants as I did this time or smaller ones; you will just need more of them. These days there are many interesting smaller eggplant varieties; any will work here; just cube, no need to peel.

Eggplant and Potato Curry

1 medium eggplant

2 large potatoes

2 decent sized tomatoes or most of a can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion diced

1 small red pepper and 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced.

1 bunch spinach or a big handful of roughly chopped kale

3-4 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated ginger, I freeze mine and just grate it frozen

½ tsp. cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle

½ tsp. ground turmeric; I did a rounded measurement; a tad more than level

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions: Slice eggplants into ½ inch rounds and cut into cubes. Peel and dice the potatoes into a bit less than ½ inch rounds. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion. Seed and chop the peppers (you can use any level of spicy pepper you like; the original recipe said green chilies). Wash and chop the spinach or kale (I used kale this time; subs in great)

Heat 3 Tbsp. mild oil in a large frying pan. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden; you will need to turn them a few times. Remove from pan. Add the eggplant and fry until cooked; once the oil is soaked in I wait a half minute and add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan; let the water steam off and the eggplant should be done; if you have to do that again; go ahead. This trick saves adding a lot more oil to keep the eggplant from sticking/burning. When mostly done remove from pan.  It will cook more later so it is okay if edges and bits are not fully done.

Note: you could fry the eggplant at the same time in a separate pan to save a few minutes if you are in a hurry; might take a touch more oil that way; worked for me.

Then, add a touch more oil to the same (now empty) pan and pour in the chopped onion and fry until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin, turmeric and grated ginger. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the chilies, tomatoes and salt, stir well and add back the eggplant and potatoes. Tip: when I make this in a wide 12 inch frying pan I don’t have a big enough lid; I use an upside down metal pizza pan and it makes a great lid.

Top with the spinach or kale. Stir after a minute, cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is soft, adding up to ½ cup water to keep it from sticking/burning. Add the brown sugar and cook the curry uncovered until it is thick; no more than 8-9 minutes. Serve with Indian bread or brown rice. As I haven’t really found time re-create my favorite Indian breads I served mine over brown rice.  eggplant curry on plante

Keema with Lettuce Curry

Lately I have been enjoying some wonderful meals centered around Indian curry. Sometimes chicken, sometimes lamb or beef. Keema means ground meat. I used this great recipe my sister Margie gave me for a ground beef or lamb curry with lettuce. Yes, that sounds odd, and honestly it took me quite a while before I made it. Well, it was just delicious. I have made this favorite recipe many times over the years. Unfortunately, the recipe was lost a few years ago and I finally replicated it fairly well using some curry recipes and my memories of the ingredients and the flavors I wanted to achieve. I couldn’t find any recipe for a beef/lamb curry with lettuce so I started with one that used peas as a major flavor and used ground meat and modified it to re-create my keema curry.  I love this made with lamb but I have used ground chuck in the past with a yummy curry resulting.

Curry is not that hard to cook; saute, dump, stir, simmer…but it generally has a lot of spices. I use these spices a lot making different curries. I know it seems like a ton of ingredients but please don’t throw “curry powder” in this in lieu of the spices I named. That is just not going to work as curry powder has a single somewhat flat note to it. All these spices as well as the ginger and garlic work together to create a symphony of amazing and delightful flavors. You can cut back on the ginger and/or garlic to make it more mild or strong. If you want it mild leave out the red pepper flakes.

I have successfully substituted tender shredded cabbage for the lettuce and I believe shredded romaine would also work. Possibly escarole would be successful too.

I didn’t take any cooking pictures; was not thinking about my blog. Next time I make it I will try to get some shots and add them to this post. Ground meat curries are not that pretty looking but the flavor was all there.

keema and lettuce curry

Keema and Lettuce Curry

Ingredients

1 tbsp. mild olive oil

½ tsp. cumin seed

3 cardamom pods

1 small cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 large yellow or red onion, diced (1 to 1.5 cups)

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ inch to ¾ inch of fresh ginger shredded or minced

½ tsp. red pepper flakes or a red chili pepper chopped up finely

1 bay leaf

1 ½ sp. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cumin

¾ tsp. ground turmeric

Skimpy ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg (I am debating whether I want this in or not!)

½ tsp. garam masala (mixture of ground spices like cinnamon/cumin/chili powder/cloves) If I don’t have any on hand i make a quick version using these named spices)

1 lb. ground lamb or beef

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes or 2-3 diced fresh tomatoes

¾ of a head of iceberg lettuce sliced thinly; maybe 2-3 cups worth

1 to 1.5 cups water

2 Tbsp. plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions:  Let meat rest until it has warmed to room temp. while you chop and measure. I put the whole spices in one small cup and the ground spices in a second small glass cup.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Any oil you like will work other than EVOL.  Add the dish of whole spices and let them heat until things crackle a bit.  Add the onions and cook until they are soft and starting to caramelize a touch. Add the ground spices as well as the fresh ginger and garlic. Stir for a minute. Add the ground meat; I push it down so the spices and onions are pushed up around the meat; giving the meat the majority of the pan surface to brown on.  Stir to brown the meat well. This may take 5-9 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sliced lettuce and stir well. Add 1 cup water, cover and cook about 40 minutes. Can cook longer; up to 60 minutes if you like. Stir it every ten minutes and add more water if needed. It should not be dry. Stir in the yogurt, add salt and pepper to taste.  Let stand five minutes before serving.  Remove the cinnamon stick. I try to pick out the cardamon pods as biting into one of them can be a bit overwhelming.

I serve mine over rice; brown rice is my preference for this curry.  I made some sautéed green beans and asparagus spears with black mustard seeds and cumin seeds; a great combination I stumbled upon. Enjoy!

My inspiration recipe was from my fancy pantry. They used peas not lettuce as the main veggie. I added and subtracted ingredients to re-create my beloved keema and lettuce curry.