Saturday, August 18, 2018

Spicy Braised Eggplant with Everyday Okra

When I cooked these dishes a few weeks ago and posted a photo on Instagram, I mentioned that I love cooking from Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking with summer produce. There are so many great recipes that include eggplant, tomatoes, and okra that I’m still working through all the pages I’ve marked with little sticky flags. But, today I started wondering why I associate the book so much with summer produce. As I flipped through the pages again, I started getting excited for late fall and winter produce to make things like the Spicy Cauliflower Omelets and Vegetable Biryani with Cauliflower, Carrots, and Peas. I also usually enjoy comforting, slow-cooked dals more in cooler weather, and there are several good ones in the book. But for now, we have lots of local eggplant to eat. At Boggy Creak Farm, they’re growing a green variety this year called Daesene Green. They’re also growing lovely, green okra. In the book, the recipes are called Rice with Eggplant (Vangi Bhaat) and My Everyday Okra (Roz Ki Bhindi). I decided to serve the two together since I had brought home both of these stars of our local, summer vegetable options. 

First, the eggplant was cut into big chunks. I was tempted to make the pieces a little smaller, but I’m glad I followed the instructions. Given the length of time the eggplant cooks, the chunks become delightfully tender. Smaller pieces would have turned to mush. The big chunks were soaked in water while oil was heated in a large saute pan. A cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, and dried red chiles were added to the hot oil and stirred until the seeds began to pop. Onion was added next and fried for a minute. Next, the eggplant was drained and added to the pan with some salt. The eggplant was fried while stirring for about 10 minutes until well coated with the spices. Ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chile powder were added next and cooked for a couple of minutes. Then, lemon juice, tomato puree, and water were stirred into the mixture, and it was left to braise, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes. It was to be served over rice, and I used brown basmati. For the okra dish, the pods were cut into pieces and cooked in oil with minced onion. The heat was gradually decreased as the okra cooked. Ground coriander and cumin were added with chile powder, amchoor, and salt. Chopped tomatoes were added and left to cook for just a few minutes more. 

Meltingly tender is the perfect description of the eggplant in this dish. I would even call it buttery. It was addictively good. The dried chiles and chile powder gave it a nice level spiciness. Okra and tomatoes is common in the South, but this Indian version delivered a lot more flavor. These recipes made great use of summer vegetables, and now I can’t wait to revisit this book more often in cooler seasons.

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  1. So flavourful, yummy and satisfying..I wouldn't even miss the meat here.

  2. This looks so delicious and wholesome! :D I love vegetable rich dishes like these and Indian flavours really give veggies so much flavour.

  3. Madhur Jaffrey is so terrific. It was from one of her cookbooks that I learned how to cook Indian. When we worked in NYC, we'd sometimes stay late in the city and have dinner at her restaurant -- lucky us! :-) And lucky us if we made this wonderful looking recipe -- look SO GOOD! Thanks!

  4. okra is underrated! i didn't know it was an ingredient in indian cuisine--what a pleasant surprise!

  5. Hi Lisa, this looks delicious we love eggplant!!

  6. I love Indian food with all the various spices that are used. I've been watching an Indian cooking show recently and I think I'll try making vegetable samosas next!


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