Spicy Thai Eggplant in Chick Pea Curry Sauce
Some people have a problem with cross-over cuisine- but really, with the world ever changing and our borders with them, shouldn't we shift some borders in cookery too? To me the notion of someone in England say, cooking an "authentic" spaghetti Bolognese from a printed recipe that one person published, where if you asked 100 housewives in Bologna how they make their sauce you would receive probably as many variations... just says to me- puh-lease! Just enjoy your food! Oh it is wonderful to know the classics, great to appreciate the authentic- but don't you want to try something new? To me, if the ingredients, the foundations of the methods and the flavors work- then go for it! Which is what I did this evening... by way of Thailand and India in this case!
I had bought these lovely little Thai eggplants and felt, understandably enough, compelled to make a Thai dish with them. Despite the fact that I love Thai curries though, I was not really in the mood for coconut milk this evening- and a whole can full would have been way to much for me on my own. So I began thinking of alternatives and came up with the idea of using chick pea flour and yogurt- a combination I love from Indian curries... and was rewarded with a great, simple, new and delicious dish!
Again, as much as I love the flavor of coconut milk, I wanted something lighter and healthier... so I decided on a lighter and healthier preparation altogether... and that meant steaming rather than frying my ingredients. In this case, it meant using one of my favorite tricks and steaming the vegetables above the rice, in the same saucepan whilst it boiled- good multi-tasking and time-saving!
So above my rice, on a steam rack, I placed the little eggplants, cut into halves, a red pointed pepper, finely chopped and a handful of green beans which I cut into bite-sized pieces. I let the rice simmer away and the vegetables boil for 10 minutes, then turned off the heat, took out the steam rack and replaced the lid so that the rice could continue and indeed finish cooking in the residual heat... best way to make it! Just remember- double the amount of water, to the amount of rice, boil for 10 minutes and allow to finish for 10 minutes... guaranteed to be fluffy and perfect every time!
Meanwhile, in a frying pan with just a little clarified butter, I sautéed a little chopped garlic, ginger and onion and as soon as the onion was translucent, I sprinkled a little chick pea flour into the pan and stirred it together swiftly to avoid and lumping... then added ground turmeric, a little lemon grass powder (which is wonderful stuff- but basically because I didn't have any fresh at home), chili powder, lime, galangal powder (optional) and a spoonful of Thai green curry paste. I then deglazed the pan with a little boiling water and stirred this all very swiftly and very well to create a sauce. For seasoning, I used a splash of fish sauce... perfect for a curry< like this! I then added the vegetables and a handful of cilantro and let everything simmer for 4-5 minutes until all of the flavors had combined and mingled and then added a good handful of bean sprouts. At this point I turned off the heat, stirred everything thoroughly, added a tiny drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of chili flakes and cilantro leaves... and was good to go!
Which was a good thing as I was really starving!