Eggplant is one of those foods, like summer squash. I often hear people say they don’t like it. And, as usual, I tell them that they just haven’t had it prepared well. On its own, without any seasoning, eggplant can indeed be a little tasteless and bitter. But that’s exactly why we need to know how to handle and prepare this nightshade veggie for maximum flavor and health benefits – like the ton of fiber and manganese it contains. And, when done well, eggplant can rival the taste and texture of chicken – making it a vegetarian favorite.
I recommend peeling your eggplant, especially if it is a larger variety like Black Magic – the most common kind you’ll find in the United States, pictured at left in the first photo above – and especially if it is not at its peak freshness.
It’s often said you should salt the eggplant and let it sit for 30 minutes or so for the water and bitterness to be released. I say go for it – if you have the time and have planned ahead. I often don’t. Having tried it both ways, I can’t say I see a significant difference in the end, especially in a dish like this.
Note: Since I had quite a few eggplants to get through when I took these photos, you’ll notice they did start to brown. But I wasn’t worried because they cooked in the curry sauce, and no one ever noticed.
Start with some garlic. Brown it just slightly in a medium-sized pan with some olive oil for a couple of minutes. Then add in the eggplant and a few pinches of salt. You want to cook the eggplant, stirring often, until it starts to release some liquid, 5-10 minutes.
Next in goes the curry powder, ginger, and coconut milk. I’m a big fan of coconut milk sold in cartons like this. I use it for everything from plain drinking to smoothies to cooking. However, when coconut milk is called for in a recipe, it’s probably referring to the heavier, richer kind you’ll find in cans. I recommend keeping a few of these cans, found in the international section of your grocery store, on hand at all times. They’re shelf-stable. The cartons are not. But the carton works for a lighter flavor, and if you’ll use it up like regular milk.
Keep simmering the eggplant for a good 25 minutes or more. Taste it as you go and see how it’s tasting. You’ll know it’s done cooking when it melts in your mouth. Adjust the seasoning as needed and throw in the remaining garlic just before finishing. And it’s good to go!
Want to add peppers? Onions? Or other veggies? Feel free to add them in when you add the eggplant. I kind of like the simplicity of the eggplant, though.
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish (optional)
- Peel the eggplant and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Place oil and 1/2 of the garlic in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Two minutes later, add the eggplant and a couple of pinches of salt.
- Stir and toss constantly until, after 5 or 10 minutes, the eggplant begins to release some of the oil it has absorbed. Add in the curry powder/paste, coconut milk, and ginger.
- Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until eggplant is tender, about 30 minutes. About five minutes before it is done, add the remaining garlic. Season. Garnish and serve over rice or another grain.