Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sweet and Spicy, Green Tomatoes and Golden Eggplants Rock a Simple Indian Lunch.

   It's been a hot, hot, hot week here in Sonoma. The Vintage Festival was last week and the town was booming, finishing up the harvest and getting ready for the coming Fall weather.  We've been working on the Bible for our TV pilot with the guys in LA, and I've also been working to develop more gluten free treats for the soon to open, CocoaPlanet tasting room and Bistro here in Sonoma, a totally certified gluten free establishment.
   Among the dishes I made for last weekends testing was this Apple Walnut tart with a fig glaze which contains a total of just under 1/3 cup of sugar for the entire thing.

But I had to get back to Indian food because our garden planted for the express purpose of fueling Indian meals is full to bursting. One thing that has been plentiful this year are the tomatoes, and of course when one plants 4 varieties of eggplants one can expect a whole LOT of eggplants (what I've got) and there's the rub. How to fix them and not repeat too many recipes so that people don't run when they see me coming with a bowl of eggplant.

   The answer was combining the eggplants with something else. Potatoes? Nah. Tomatoes? Maybe. Green tomatoes? Now I was interested. It seems that green tomatoes are a thing that I missed growing up in  an Italian American family in San Francisco. My family originally came to California from New Orleans back in the days before it was part of the USA and I have a lot of relatives still living in the South, as our branch seems to be the only ones that went West. That must be why I missed the Green Tomatoes.

   For some reason I always thought green tomatoes would make a person sick (no I never saw the movie) so it actually took me this long to get around to eating green tomatoes. Now I'm not counting tomatillos which I've cooked with and eaten plenty of, but regular old southern fried green tomatoes. Turns out that in India, green tomatoes are a thing too. There are all sorts of curries that use them, so I decided to make a green tomato sabzi, and since I was out picking some of my green tomatoes I thought why not toss in some of my golden Thai eggplants. Now it's a party!

   The dish I was making is called Tomato, Eggplant Sabzi . A sabzi is simply a vegetable curry cooked in a sauce. This particular sabzi is a dry curry thick with toasted coconut and peanut powder. It's also super fast which is why I'm including it here. If you want something that pumps in a lot of vegetables and tastes great with a minimum of effort and a maximum of flavor this is it.

 Green Tomatoes and Golden Eggplant Sabzi

Here's What You Need:
6 green tomatoes
4  Thai  eggplants
1/4 cup of  toasted dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup of toasted peanut powder
1 and 1/2 Tbs of jaggery or dark brown sugar
2 Tbs of vegetable oil, I use coconut oil
2 green serrano chilies finely chopped
6 curry leaves (if you can't find them omit them as there is no substitute)
2 tsps kosher salt
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:
Rinse and dry your eggplants and tomatoes.
Take the eggplants and quarter them.

Put them in a bowl of salted water to sit for about 20 minutes, then rinse them and set them aside.
Cut the green tomatoes into quarters...

...and set them aside.
Mince the serrano chilies and set aside.

Toast the dried coconut for a few minutes in a small pan on the stove top. When it starts to turn a golden brown, take it off the heat and set it aside.
Make your peanut powder. I use pre-toasted unsalted peanuts from Whole Foods and put them in my grinder.

Voila! Peanut powder!
In a pan or kadhai heat 2 Tbs of vegetable  oil or coconut oil. I use Sonoma Harvest virgin coconut oil.

When the oil has heated toss in the mustard seeds.
As soon as they start to pop add in the chopped serrano chilies, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, and the curry leaves if you have them.
Stir everything around well, and then add in the tomatoes and eggplants.

Cook them on a medium heat until the tomatoes and eggplants are about half way cooked. This may take about 10 minutes or so. Make sure nothing  sticks or burns so stir every now and then.

When the tomatoes and eggplants are about halfway cooked through, add 1 and 1/2 Tbs of jaggery or dark brown sugar...

...and 2 tsp of salt.
Give everything a good stir and continue to cook until the eggplants and tomatoes have softened.
When everything is cooked through add in the toasted coconut, ground peanuts, and 3 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro.

Cook everything for another couple of minutes, check for seasoning and serve it up!

   Spicy, hot and sweet this dish goes great with any Indian meal. Serve it plain with rice and some chapattis, or as a great side for a western style meat entree. I'm shocked I just discovered Green Tomatoes, and if you have tomatoes in your garden and you're worried about getting rid of them all once they've ripened...don't wait! They're fine just the way they are.

   And if you want to make this dish or any other Indian dish easily, but wonder where do I get the spices? Visit The Chaunk, get one of our Indian Spice Kits and start exploring the universe of Indian Cuisine. Coming up next, a kheema pav  and a vada pav which I've been dreaming of for quite a while. Mumbais' answer to White Castle. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

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