Recipe by Sass Smith
This is a wonderful sweet, complex eggplant curry that goes beautifully with almost everything. Adapted from Cradle of Flavor.
- 1 lb Japanese eggplant, unpeeled, stemmed, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into pieces about 2-3 inches long
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, plus 3 tablespoons very warm water to make extract
- peanut oil (for frying)
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise (about 2 1/2 ounces total)
- 1 -5 fresh Thai green chili, stemmed, and halved lengthwise
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, finely ground
- 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 piece cinnamon stick, 3 inches
- 3⁄4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 3⁄4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
Directions See How It's Made
- Place eggplant pieces in a large bowl and dust turmeric on top. With your hands, massage turmeric into eggplant until it even coats the fleshy side of each piece. Set aside.
- Place tamarind pulp in a small bowl and mix with warm water. Let pulp soften, 10-15 minutes. Squeeze and massage softened pulp through your fingers, loosening fruit's pulp from sinew and seeds. With your fingers, remove all sold pieces and discard. You will have a caramel-colored extract.
- Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch into a 3-quart sauce pan (I used a wok) and place over medium to medium-high heat until hot but not smoking - about 365 degrees. You can test it by spearing a piece of eggplant onto a fork, dipping edge into hot oil. If it begins to fry and a froth of oil immediately bubbles around it, oil is ready.
- Fry eggplant in batches of no more than 3 pieces at a time (KOD note: In a wider wok you could probably get away with 10 pieces) until fleshy side of each piece just begins to turn golden, about 90 seconds. Eggplant should be just cooked and not at all soft or mushy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to paper towels to drain.
- Turn off heat. Let oil cool for a few minutes, then pour off all but about 2 tablespoons (KOD note: Very important step; otherwise, you will have a very oily curry.).
- Reheat pan, this time over medium-low heat. Add garlic and shallots and cook until they turn limp and translucent, about 2 minutes. Do not let them turn brown.
- Add chiles and all ground spices. Saute, stirring gently to prevent from scorching, about 3 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and water, stir to combine and increase heat to medium. Bring coconut milk to a lively simmer and reduce heat so that mixture stays at a gentle simmer. Stir in tamarind, sugar and salt; continue to simmer about 15 minutes.
- Add eggplant and cook until it is fork-tender, about 1-2 minutes. Do not let it overcook and fall apart. Taste for salt and add as necessary.
- Transfer to a bowl and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.