Thursday, October 16, 2008

Eggplant, Spinach, and Chickpea Curry

I love leafing through cookbooks, but I view recipes less as culinary gospel than inspirational models, and today's recipe is a good example. This particular dish had its basis in a recipe from Lord Krishna's Cuisine, but has become so unrecognizable that I won't even bother listing my changes except to say that even if you don't object to dairy, putting 10 tablespoons of ghee in anything is just over the top.

What I will say is that you should make this curry as soon as possible, because it is seriously delicious, as in "company-meal-for-skeptical-omnivores" delicious. I should also add that this recipe makes a lot of food, but it also freezes well and makes particularly excellent leftovers; in fact, I often make it a day in advance because it just keeps getting better and better.

Eggplant, Spinach, and Chickpea Curry
~ 2 tbsp. canola (or other) oil
~ 1 tsp. each: mustard seeds; cumin seeds
~ 2 cups chopped onion
~ 1 tbsp. each: minced garlic, grated ginger
~ 1 tsp each: salt, coriander, fenugreek powder, cumin, curry powder, garam masala
~ ½ tsp. each: cinnamon, asafoetida, cayenne pepper
~ 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
~ 6 cups diced eggplant
~ 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, including liquid
~ 1 15 oz. can coconut milk (I prefer the high test to the "lite" here)
~ 1 lb. frozen spinach
~ 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
~ 1 tbsp. canola oil
~ 2 tsp. panch phoran

~ In a large, deep pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat; add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to sizzle and pop. You might want to be wearing an apron while you do this. And safety goggles. (Just kidding...well, sort of.)
~ Add the onions and cook 5 minutes, until they're just starting to brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Cook a few minutes longer, adding a little water as necessary to prevent sticking.
~ Add the eggplant and the remaining seasonings, stirring to make sure the the vegetables are coated. Cook 5 minutes, until the eggplant begins to soften.
~ Pour in the canned tomatoes and coconut milk, stirring well to combine.
~ Add the spinach and the chickpeas, then cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every ten minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t stick or need more liquid. The eggplant should be completely broken down, and the liquid reduced to a thick stew.
~ In a small pot, heat the remaining 1 tbsp. canola oil, and fry the panch phoran for about a minute, just until the seeds begin to pop. Pour this mixture into the curry, and stir to combine.
~ Serve hot over basmati rice, with your favorite spicy pickle and/or chutney on the side.


  1. You're a girl after me own heart with your love of Indian food. I'm a HUGE asafoetida fan - I notice if it's not in a curry!

  2. Me, too, I seriously can't get enough of the stuff. And in combination with fenugreek: ooh la la!

  3. I have that enormous tome of Indian deliciousness but I truly must eat this. I trust your decree of deliciousness and I have eggplant to cook :)

  4. Mmm, this sounds great! I had to hunt for asafoetida for quite some time & now I find myself looking for uses for it.

  5. I am not a fan of eggplant, but I did enjoy the book "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant" which is a collection of stories about people cooking for one and eating out alone. My mother is coming to town tonight and I am going to stock up my freezer with her home cooked Indian food-- yummy!

    Also, you may be interested in this giveway I am hosting on my blog as part of VeganMoFo: