Monday, September 12, 2016

Eggplant Does Sweet and Sour, A Great Meatless Anyday Treat

   Every year we plant about four varieties of eggplant and every year we are swamped with eggplant. I grew up eating this vegetable which is a staple in every Italian kitchen, and then when I started cooking Indian food 26 years ago, the transition to eating a lot of eggplant was very easy. Same vegetable, different spices and actually some more efficient and healthier ways of cooking it rather that bathing it in olive oil Italian style.

   Whenever I go out to harvest eggplant I'm always torn as to what sort, what color, what shape to use. This dish actually works with any variety as I used both a Classic Italian style eggplant and a  Japanese eggplant in this dish. So, for convenience sake... grab what's handy it's all good. I also like this dish as it's pretty straightforward and easy to make. This is good for me right now as we've been busy with director and producers notes on our TV pilot, and also most of the cooking I've been doing for my collaboration with the new CocaPlanet, factory and tasting room opening here in Sonoma.

My cooking for them has involved classic French bistro dishes and lots and lots of gluten free and vegan desserts such as this Fig frangipane tart...

...Pear and almond tart...

...Chilled Vegan carrot soup...

...Terrine of pork, chicken and veal with Cognac prunes...


...Apple walnut tart...

...gluten free vegan s'mores...


...Vegan Pavlovas...

   You get the picture....after writing during the week...this is what my weekends are about. So, with that in mind I look for simple Indian dishes to serve at home during the week and this is a traditional eggplant dish, that may very well make your eggplant haters change their minds.

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

Here's What You Need:
3 Tbs oil, I use coconut oil
1 Tbs tamarind paste
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion finely chopped
1 shallot finely chopped
anywhere from 1 to 3 serrano chilies minced...I used 2 in this dish
about 1 and 1/4 lbs of eggplant...any variety
1 Tbs ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs jaggery  aka gur....(Indian palm sugar)..or brown sugar light or dark
1/4 tsp garam masala

Here's What To Do:
Wash dry and chop the eggplants diagonally into relatively thin slices, by this I mean a bit less than 1/2 inch thick.

Get your ingredients ready.

Heat the oil in a kadhai or skillet.
When the oil is hot add in the cinnamon stick and cumin seeds.

When they start to sizzle (pretty dang fast) add the chopped onion and shallot.

Cook this until it starts to turn golden and translucent.
After that toss in your minced serranos.
Stir it all around for about 1 minute then remove everything from the pan (onions ,spices, etc) and set them aside in a small bowl.

Add your eggplants to the pan.

Turn the heat up to high or medium high, and cook the eggplant pieces until they're warm then turn down the heat and put a cover on the pan and  cook until the eggplants are soft. This takes about 10 minutes. Check it every now and then, stir and you can add a bit more oil if you need to so that things do not stick.

When the eggplant pieces are soft add the  onion, shallot and spice mixture back in, and stir everything together well...

...then add in the ground coriander, cumin, and salt.

Cover it again, and cook for another 10 minutes.
Finally add in your tamarind paste, and jaggery or brown sugar.

Stir that into the eggplants mixing it together and finally toss in the chopped cilantro.

Cook it all together for another couple of minutes then sprinkle the whole dish with the garam masla and serve it up!

   This goes great with a nice Basmati rice, some lentils or beans if you's also great as a side dish with any American meal. Basically, we had lunch ready in under an hour.

   I love eating from the garden this time of year...I'll be moving on to beets and some of the other things we grow so as not to be ALL EGGPLANTS!  ALL THE TIME! and of course desserts..plenty of those.  Next up, I hit up an old favorite Indian street food dish Kheema and Vada Pav...both the meat and the vegetarian versions coming soon! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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