Thursday, 1 October 2009

Rick Stein's Bangladeshi eggplant curry with tomatoes, ginger and fennel seeds

It's been a while between posts. Sorry to anyone who's opened up to the not-so-photogenic noodles below these last 2 months.

It's not that I took a break from cooking, more that life got very busy, then the Young Man and I took a two-week trip to the Old Country--Scotland, home of all manner of unhealthy eats that it is perhaps good that we don't have on a regular basis (g). Mid-trip, I managed to break my ever trusty Canon digital camera, which though quickly replaced by a swanky new Ricoh on our return to Japan, is yet to produce any blog piccies due to SD card incompatibility issues. Sigh.

But we are back now!

This is a tasty and really easy curry that was in an excerpt from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey on the Guardian website (no longer available due to an expired copyright). I'd not really come across the recipes of British food personality Rick Stein before. Mainly because he's been busy winning awards for seafood cookery books. But after this curry, and a toovar dal with tamarind, tomatoes and curry leaves that is just like one my dear Indian friend Sa makes, I'll be keeping an eye out for more on the East from him.

If you will pardon a "language policing" moment, I was intrigued by the "Far Eastern" in the title. To my (Australian) sensibilities, though slightly old-fashioned, the term definitely conjures up the China-Korea-Japan corner of Asia. But perhaps it was an editorial decision, as Rick himself mentions the oddness of "Far Eastern" in the Meet the Author video at the Amazon link above. In actual fact, the book covers South-East Asia (no China-Korea-Japan!) + Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. A book-naming conundrum, indeed!

This curry is a cinch but really packs flavour. Make some quick before the end of the eggplant season!

I forgot to write down how many cloves of garlic and what size piece of ginger was needed, but will update the recipe when I make it again, as I think most will be like me and not want to bother weighing these. I used Japanese eggplants, which weigh about 100 g each.

The technique of brushing the eggplant halves with oil rather than heating it up in the pan is a good one. Eggplants are oil-sucking demons!

Bangladeshi eggplant curry with tomatoes, ginger and fennel seeds

Serves 4

600 g eggplants, ideally Asian finger eggplants
150 ml vegetable oil
40 g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
40 g garlic, roughly chopped
2 green cayenne chillies, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
400 g chopped tomatoes, fresh or from a can
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp each of chopped fresh coriander and mint

1 Top and tail the eggplants and cut in half lengthways. If using larger Mediterranean-style eggplants, cut each one across in half and then each piece lengthways into 6–8 wedges. Toss them with ½ tsp salt and set aside in a colander for 10 min.

2 Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Pour the oil into a shallow dish. Brush the aubergine pieces, a few at a time, with oil, put them in the frying pan and cook for 3–4 min on each side until richly browned. Cooking the eggplants in this way helps prevent them from absorbing too much oil, which would make the finished dish greasy. Set aside in a bowl and repeat with the remaining eggplants.

3 Put the ginger, garlic and chilli into a mini food processor with 2–3 tbsp water and whizz to a smooth paste.

4 Put 2 tbsp of the remaining oil into the frying pan and add the fennel and cumin seeds. Leave them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the ginger and garlic paste and leave this to fry for a further 2-3 min. Add the coriander and turmeric, fry for 1 min and then add the tomatoes, black pepper, 3 tbsp water and ½ tbsp salt. Cover and leave to simmer for 8–10 min until reduced and thickened slightly. Return the fried eggplant slices to the pan and stir well to coat in the sauce. Simmer for five minutes, then stir in the fresh coriander and mint and serve.


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