Thai Eggplant with Tamarind, Turmeric, Chili & Coconut Fried Rice
That's a looong title for a recipe up there, isn't it? At the same time- there are a whole lot more ingredients that went into this amazing dish... but the good news is- they are all actually rather simple and definitely inexpensive ingredients that you will be glad you bought- if you don't already happen to have them, that is!
This is quite a deceptively spicy dish- which of course you can make less fierce by adding less of the dried chili flakes to it... but you may well be tempted to go all the way, just as I did... because these were shrimp-flavored flakes! Oh yes! Just one of the great ingredients I am going to tell you about right now!
I based this dish on a recipe that I browsed through this morning for a Malaysian eggplant sambal with coconut, tamarind and turmeric. The recipe I saw was served up with fried shrimp and steamed rice. Mine is a free-style interpretation that I whipped-up using... well, basically whatever I had in the house! And yes, I will make sure to have them in the house again in future- because this dish is one that might just be repeated a few times!
So- now where were we? Oh yes! The ingredients! 3 Thai eggplants, 1 carrot, 2 Spring onions, about 2" of fresh ginger, a handful of sugar-snap peas, a handful of salted peanuts, some fresh cilantro, 1 cupful of rice, 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of Thai shrimp-flavored chili flakes and a tablespoon or two of coconut flakes... depending on how flaky you happen to be feeling! Haha! And I would recommend a light drizzle of hoisin sauce right at the end- simply because I love it!
Thai eggplants are the small, slender cousins of our "regular" eggplants- maybe a hint more intense in flavor but no different to what we are used to eating in our Mediterranean dishes over here. So if you have never tried them- go ahead and do it! There is absolutely nothing to be afraid of! Except for maybe becoming addicted to them!
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is to start boiling that rice! And whilst that is happening, get busy preparing your vegetables! Cut the stalk ends off the eggplants and cut them into quarters lengthways, slice the carrot up on the diagonal, trim the ends off the peas, coarsely chop half of the salted peanuts, finely slice the Spring onions and finely chop the ginger... and get tablespoon of peanut oil sizzling in your frying pan, ready to get started!
Begin by frying the eggplant sections, which will soon soak up the oil and soon after start to turn a lovely golden brown. Season only with a light sprinkle of salt, so as to keep the flavor of the eggplant pure and untouched- the rest of the ingredients are going to be bursting with spice and flavor and the eggplant will be the "neutral" ingredient that brings everything together. Once the eggplant is golden brown, set it to one side and keep it warm until serving.
To prepare the fried rice, begin by frying the chopped ginger, carrot slices and peas for 2-3 minutes, again, in just a little peanut oil.
Then add the rice, the turmeric, chili flakes, tamarind past, whole peanuts, Spring onion and the stalks of the cilantro... and get stirring!
Add a little soy sauce, a little sesame oil, the coconut flakes and the chopped cilantro leaves, stir everything thing through - and grab yourself a serving dish! It's time to eat!
Serve the eggplant on top of the fried rice, with the remaining chopped peanuts, cilantro and a nice drizzle of hoisin sauce to round off the seasoning... and doesn't that just look rich and tasty and terrific! ?!?!
As I already mentioned, mine was rather hot and spicy as I added a whole teaspoon of those delicious shrimp-chili flakes... but of course you can add as much or as little as you like- and you can absolutely use regular chili too... make this dish your own! After all... that's all that I did! I invented it!