Aubergine and peanut curry
Curry is one of those veggie staples that everyone has a recipe for. Whether it’s a swelteringly-hot vindaloo or a creamy korma with big chunks of paneer in, food from India lends itself to vegetarian cooking so well. It’s not surprise, with an average 30% of people in India, following a vegetarian diet. Most Indian restaurants seem to have a “secret” veggie menu, filled with all kinds of amazing treats, you just have to ask.
After trying something similar from our local takeaway (Ganesha’s in Bristol, absolutely amazing), I thought I’d have a crack at an aubergine and peanut curry myself. Most recipes I Googled called for at least two aubergines, but I only had one, slightly old one, languishing in the fridge – so I improvised, and made up my own recipe, using a spare courgette. This recipe makes enough for four people, with rice.
1 aubergine (or eggplant, or sex fruit, whatever you want to call it)
1 courgette (a big one)
1 small onion
3 small tomatoes (I used those little posh vine tomatoes)
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, up to you)
1 tin coconut milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 teaspoons turmeric
To start, preheat your oven to 200 and chop up your aubergine. Bung it in a pan with some oil and 2 teaspoons turmeric, as well as some salt + pepper. I chopped mine into reasonable-sized chunks (about the size of a die) and rolled them all around in the oil/spice mixture to get them nice and evenly-coated. Bake it all in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop your onion and courgette and set them aside. Add a bit of oil to a big wok (or a frying pan with a lid) and add the rest of your spices, frying them over a medium heat for a few seconds to release the flavour. Add your chopped onions and courgette, and lower the heat. You want to soften the onions, not cook them too quickly, or they’ll burn. After about 5 minutes, chop your tomatoes and add them in too. Mince your garlic (or do what I did, and get a big teaspoon out of the jar of pre-minced garlic) and add that in too. Continue to fry everything over a medium-low heat until your aubergines are done (you can always take them out a bit early if you need to).
Add the aubergines to the wok and give everything a big stir, to get the spices and oil over the aubergines. Now add a big tablespoon of peanut butter (remember to lick the spoon afterwards, this is very important) and mix it all in – gooey! Once the peanut butter is spread out evenly over all the veggies, add your coconut milk and stir to combine. There’s lots of stirring in this recipe, think of it as a convenient upper-arm workout.
Finally, stir in a bit of tomato paste (you don’t need a lot, just a bit to add sweetness) and a dash of lemon juice, then a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Serve with rice or naan breads (or both, ideally both) and enjoy!