My biggest problem when cooking for a crowd is that I get so caught up in cooking I often forget to take photos! It was almost the case this time as out of the three curries made, I only took a quick shot of one. Even though this isn't the greatest photo, I'm glad to have captured something otherwise I wouldn't have felt inspired to write about this dish.
Not much was changed from the original recipe, in fact the only alterations I made were to use lebanese eggplants in place of regular eggplant as well as reducing the amount of oil considerably. I was dubious about pieces of standard eggplant holding together after initial frying and then cooking in the curry sauce. Leaner shaped lebanese eggplants had an advantage as after they were cut, a strip of skin was present in every piece which made them more robust. The amount of oil in the recipe was listed as 310ml which seemed way more than necessary, particularly as we had fried pakoras on the menu. I cut this back to just under half by using what felt right and measuring along the way. A decent portion of oil was still used in the making of this dish as eggplants really do love to soak it up.
Even though this curry is called spicy eggplant, I didn't find it overwhelming spicy. Like most curries it developed a lot of flavour overnight and I enjoyed the leftovers that can be seen above even more. The other curries I made were my old favourite dal makhani which I hadn't made for the man's family before and Palak "paneer" from Holy Cow. The paneer substitute was made with marinated and fried tofu cubes, it's something I have tried before but not revisited for a while. All of the curries received many compliments yet I have a strong feeling that the pakoras were the stars of the night.
For dessert I made individual orange vanilla custard fruit tarts from Wrapped in Pastry which were thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who tried them. I regret not taking a photo of them on the night as the custard had broken up a little by the next day. This photo taken days later will have to suffice.
Oh, one last thing! I have finally created a Twitter account and am in the process of getting that up and running. If you are on twitter, feel free to follow me and I'll return the favour.
Spicy eggplant (Adapted from The Food of India)
800g lebanese eggplant
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
400g tin diced tomatoes
10 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon kaloonji (nigella seeds)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
Slice the eggplants lengthwise into halves or quarters depending on their size, then into pieces about 5cm long. Sprinkle the eggplant pieces with salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes in a colander. Rinse well with fresh water and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Place the garlic, ginger and 1/3 of the tinned tomatoes in a blender and process until smooth.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a deep sided frying pan on medium heat and place as many slices of eggplant that will fit in a single layer. Cook until browned on both sides, then remove and place in a colander. Repeat until all of the eggplant is cooked. This took me 4 batches.
Heat the final 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and add the fennel and kaloonji seeds.When the seeds begin to sizzle and smell fragrant, pour in the contents of the blender, then add the remainder of the tinned tomatoes, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric and salt. Stir frequently for 5 minutes, then add the eggplant pieces. Mix the eggplant through the sauce gently so the pieces don't fall apart. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve it as a cold dish.