Saturday, September 3, 2011

Smoked Eggplant Curry

This was a pretty easy dish . . . up until the point where you manipulate fire in your home kitchen. For me, the smoking part turned out to be more of an interesting experiment than a good addition to the dish. Were I to do it again:

a) I would smoke the eggplant out of doors, and, 
b) I may just make the dish, sans smoking.

Either way, it is very delicious! One way is just easier. And safer for your home, especially in this drought.

Smoked Eggplant Curry
3 tomatoes
6 whole cashews
1 T ghee (or butter, or vegetable oil)
1/2 lb eggplant
1/2 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp lemon juice

For smoking the eggplant:
1 lump charcoal, about the size of a lemon (not treated with accelerant!)
1 tsp vegetable oil

Boil a medium pot of water, and drop the tomatoes in whole. When the tomato skins start to blister, drain them and let them cool a bit. Then peel the tomato skins and discard. Core the tomato. Place the skinned, cored tomatoes in a blender along with the cashew nuts and puree. Set this aside.

Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. I peeled the skin first, but that’s optional.
Heat butter, ghee or oil in a medium skillet. Add the eggplants, and let them brown a little on medium-high heat, about 4 minutes. 

Then add ginger and garlic. Stir on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garam masala and chili powder and cook another 30 seconds.

Pour in the tomato puree and salt. Boil for 7 minutes or till the eggplant is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little. If the sauce gets too thick, sprinkle some water over it.

Turn off heat. Taste the curry and add lemon juice, if using.

Now, smoke the curry!

Hold a piece of charcoal, using tongs, over an open flame. You can do this on an open gas flame, or an outdoor grill. Heat it till it becomes red hot. (Be careful, the hot coal may give out sparks, turn on your ventilator or exhaust).

Now you need to work quickly. Place the red hot coal in a small bowl.

Immediately place the bowl inside the skillet with the eggplant curry. 

Pour the oil over the coal, so that it smokes. Quickly place a lid over the skillet. Let the smoke from the charcoal infuse into the covered curry for about 6 minutes. The longer the charcoal bowl sits in the skillet, the smokier your curry will get.

Remove the bowl from the skillet, and discard the charcoal. Serve the smoked eggplant curry with rice, roti or naan.

Farm Box Ingredients Used: eggplant, tomato, garlic

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