This dessert started with eggplant. That is, if it weren’t for the eggplant, I never would have made orange sorbet. I had a couple of varieties of eggplant to use, and I started craving a Thai eggplant curry. I knew I had seen an eggplant curry in The Kitchen Diaries which I read several months ago but don’t think I’ve mentioned here before. In that book, which is a year-long food diary about enjoying the right food in the right place at the right time, Nigel Slater mentions a meal involving a curry of eggplant, tomatoes, and lemongrass. He explains that he likes to follow a "stinging-hot principal dish" with a "sharp citrus dessert." The thought of a spicy dish with complex flavors followed by an icy, fruity, sorbet appealed to me very much. The curry in the book is made with a homemade paste involving shrimp paste which would have sent me on a day-long ingredient hunt, so I started asking around about eggplant curry recipes. Leela from She Simmers shared with me an informative post of hers about purchased curry pastes vs ones made from scratch, and her post also includes a link to an easy green curry recipe from Kasma Loha-unchit. That’s the version that I made only with mushrooms instead of pork. Then, it was back to the book for the dessert. So, yes, eggplant brought me along a winding path that led to orange sorbet.
Making the sorbet couldn’t have been easier. A simple syrup was made, and orange zest was added. Since the juice of a lemon was going to be added later, I zested some of said lemon and added it to the simple syrup as well. Once the syrup was cool, fresh orange juice and the juice of the lemon were added. I left that mixture in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly for a few hours before churning it in an ice cream maker. For garnish, I topped servings with a little lime zest.
The eggplant curry with coconut milk, Thai chiles, Thai basil, and green curry paste was spicy and lovely and the eggplant chunks took on all the flavors nicely. And, as suggested, following that with a cooling, citrusy, orange sorbet was refreshing and delicious. With no prompting, questioning, or fishing for a response, Kurt said he liked it. Even though he rarely dislikes a dessert, he doesn’t come right out and say he likes one very often, and then we both wanted seconds of this, so I know for sure it was really good.