Have you ever been a little ambivalent about aubergine/eggplant? On the one hand loving their smooth, shiny plum coloured exterior but never really in raptures about the taste. Well my other half, Mr B, tended to fall into this category, so a while ago I set out to prove him wrong.
After mutterings of ‘you know aubergine is my least favourite vegetable, I prefer greens’, he tasted one mouthful and that completely shut him up. Murmurs of approval were given between mouthfuls and a 9/10 score (yes we regularly mark our food – is that unusual?). RESULT. Surprisingly my eldest child also adored it, surprising as it does have a fair amount of chilli in it! If you don’t like chilli, but like spice, just reduce or take out the chilli in the recipe below.
The combination of aubergine, peanuts and sesame seeds works ridiculously well together so much so that you will have to restrain yourself from wanting to guzzle up the whole dish. Combine that with a spiced onion and tomato sauce and you have yourself a winning dish. So put your assumptions to one side for a moment and give this recipe a whirl and I can assure you you will be more than pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t resist the bijou aubergines on sale at my local market but a regular sized aubergine will work equally well. Just slice the aubergine into chunky chip sized pieces, keeping the skin on of course.
Indian Aubergine/Eggplant, Peanut and Tomato Curry
Adapted from Sanjay Thumma’s Eggplant Tomato Curry
450g baby aubergine/eggplant (normal size is fine too), sliced lengthways or chunky chip sized if using a regular aubergine
cooking oil, enough to deep fry the aubergine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies
1 small green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
5 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp of garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 white onion, finely chopped
200g chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tbsp salted peanuts
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1. If using baby aubergine/eggplant slice lengthways removing the stalk. If using a regular sized aubergine slice into chunky chip sized, again removing the stalk. Once sliced, immediately place in a pan of boiling oil to sizzle away and bronze. This should take no longer than ten minutes.
2. Remove the aubergine with a straining spoon and place on some kitchen roll whilst you prepare the next steps.
3. In a new large pan add the olive oil and when hot add the mustard and cumin seeds. They will begin to pop immediately so move them gently around the pan for 15 seconds before adding the dried red chilli, fresh small green chilli (optional), curry leaves (fresh or dried), turmeric, garlic, ginger paste and onion. Continue to cook on a medium heat for around 7 minutes by which time the onion should have nicely softened, but not bronzed.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander, cumin and Kashmiri chilli powder and simmer for a further 5 minutes, by which time the tomatoes will have totally softened and blended into the sauce. Return the aubergines to the pan and fold gently into the sauce.
5. In a small pan dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds for a couple of minutes, making sure to constantly move them around the pan so that the heat is evenly distributed and they do not burn. They will begin to bronze at which point you need to remove them from the pan.
6. Using a spice grinder (definitely one of my most useful items I own in my kitchen) – this is the one I use – see here - grind the peanuts and sesame seeds together to form a paste.
7. Add the peanut sesame paste to the pan and stir into the curry, adding more water if necessary. As I used salted peanuts I only needed to add a little more salt. Simmer for a few minutes and serve. If cooking ahead and leaving to rest you will have to add a little more water when heating up.
Serve with rice or Indian bread and you have yourself a vegetarian – in fact vegan – treat. Try it and leave a comment below.