I've used a strange parenthetical title to this post because I don't want to imply that the curry in this recipe is of Thai origin. The eggplant I used in the dish are those little round and teardrop-shaped eggplants, between golf ball and tennis ball size that I know as Thai eggplant. The "curry" is entirely an invention with global elements. Are we clear? Good.
Friends for dinner and I don't have a clue what to make. I'd thought about making a seitan version of gyros, but one of the four of us is a true vegetarian, and I wasn't so sure a fake meat plate would be the most welcoming grub to serve.
Then I remembered I had these little eggplants in the refrigerator, and thought of the green curry eggplant dishes I'd had in restaurnts around the city. I didn't have green curry, but I did have the fixings for a pseudo curry of my own.
I'd read about adding curry pastes to dishes so I thought I'd try to make up a "curry" paste of my own. It's not very traditional, but it worked out well. I also used miso instead of arrowroot to thicken the sauce because... Well, because I had miso on hand and it seemed to be a flavor that would complement what was already going on.
I will make this recipe again. I have to apologize because I'm going to leave out one ingredient. This isn't because I want to be difficult or keep the secret, it's just that I've lost the label for this jar and I can't for the life of me figure out what spice it is. It's a seed of some sort, prfectly round, black, about the size of coriander seed, and has a slightly sweet taste to it with an almost licorice and sage kind of thing going on. If you know what I'm talking about let me know because its driving me crazy!
(Thai Eggplant) Curry
About 15 small round eggplant. I used a mix of white and purple.
4 summer squash
1 can coconut milk - 14 oz
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice of two small limes (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup shelled, roasted, skinless peanuts
1/2 cup white miso
1 jalapeno, chopped fine
1/2 banana pepper, chopped fine
big pinch kosher salt
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
2 tablespoons finely chopped galanga
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
1 teapspoon thai chili sauce (or use Tabasco)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon mystery ingredient seeds (see above)
1 kaffir lime leaf
1 tablespoon cinammon
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
a couple big grinds of black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
Cut the tops off all the eggplants and cut them into quarters. Salt them moderately to help draw out the bitter flavor. Cut summer squash into bite-sized pieces of your choosing.
With a mortar and pestle, grind the ingredients for the paste. Start with the garlic, salt, galanga, kaffirleaves, and peppers, and add the rest of the ingredients one at a time. Grind well before adding the next ingredient. Taste a very small amount and adjust seasonings to your taste. Remember it should be very hot as it will be diluted in the final dish.
Pour coconut and soy milk into a large saucepan. Heat through and add paste. Stir until paste is dissolved/dispersed into the milks. Add lime juice, cilantro, and peanuts then add eggplant and squash and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover.
Simmer for 25 minutes. Check on vegetables. They may need more time, depending on how tender your eggplant is. Taste the broth and add more Thai chili sauce/Tabasco and black pepper if you prefer. Wait thirty seconds after tasting to make that determination, however, as the spice in this dish is of the "way-homer" variety. As in it won't be until on the way home you'll start to feel the burning.
Stir in the miso, but don't allow the mix to boil after you have done so.
Simmer longer until veggies are the desired tenderness and enjoy over white rice. Serve with a bitter beer like an India Pale Ale or a sweet drink like a mango lassi or Thai iced tea/coffee.
Have hot sauce, black pepper, peanuts, chili sauce and salt on the table when you serve this dish. That will allow your guests to adjust the flavor to their liking.