This is a very quick dish to prepare and I offer it as an ode to being short on time, not due to the weight of responsibility (we all have enough of that), but due to being out enjoying summer days, full nights, the company of friends and solitude in the sun. It’s an homage to fresh ingredients complemented by spices that can be thrown together in a hodgepodge fashion. Though the list of spices is long, you can pull it off without a ton of thought so you can get outside and traverse the impossibly beautiful earth blooming with life and the the lightness that comes with milder days. It’s a precious time that flies by so quickly that I often have to take a moment to be mindful of each artfully strung together series of moments that comprise a summer. I allow myself this quick break from self-imposed shoulds, oughts, and musts (except with regard to getting outside), and just enjoy.
This recipe comes courtesy of Cheesy Biscuit whose impeccable flavor palette works its way into so many of her savory and sweet dishes. She’s no stranger to cardamom or saffron, two of my most closely guarded treasures, though neither make an appearance in this dish. If someone tried to take those flavors off the planet for some reason, I would fight with tooth and nail to protect them.
This curry is slightly tangy from the tomato and yogurt base with a touch of bitter from the eggplant and arugula. The peppers give it a hint of sweet and heat. A perfect metaphor for summer.
Eggplant Curry with Greens adapted from Cheesy Biscuit
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 bunch fresh spinach or arugula
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 carton sweet cherry tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 large can tomatoes
- 6 oz plain yogurt
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled, chopped
- 2 green chilies, left whole but slit down the middle, seeds removed
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
In a large pan or dutch oven, toast all of the dry spices until they begin to jump and pop. Remove the spices from the pan and set aside, then fry the chopped onion in the oil over a medium heat, keeping an eye to make sure it doesn’t stick. Once the onion turns brownish, add the eggplant cubes and cook for about 5 minutes.
In a blender or small food processor add the tomatoes, yogurt, garlic, ginger, ground cumin and turmeric, and toasted seeds (they probably won’t all break down, but the bigger coriander seeds will) and blitz until smooth. Pour this over and around the aubergines, add a splash of water, the cinnamon stick, and chillies, and bubble over a moderate heat for a couple of minutes. After this time, give the pan a stir to make sure the eggplant isn’t sticking, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for thirty minutes, stirring from time to time.
Next throw the arugula or spinach and tomatoes on top of the curry. Cook for a further 10 minutes or so, or until the aubergine is soft. When you’re ready to serve, remove the cinnamon stick and chilies, and toss in some cilantro and serve warm.