sour eggplant curry

spicy sour eggplant curry

Off late, I've been craving everything that tastes sour, especially anything with a citrusy taste or flavor. Cravings are like the insane beast and my relationship with this creature sometimes involves, feeding and nurturing it. I probably unconsciously knew this going in when I picked up these gorgeous baby eggplants that I would indulge in a session of souring things up with the hope that it would entail future moments where I would slurp sour spicy goodness from a big bowl while sitting outside in the sun.

baby eggplants

So I spent my morning with my precious wok, sautéing onions and ginger in hot coconut oil flavored with the heat of dried whole red chilies and fragrant cumin. Then came those cherubic eggplants that sizzled and sputtered as soon as their dark purple skins met the heat of the pan. Finally, I stirred in the coconut milk and lime juice and once the yellow broth came together, I inhaled the scent of the fresh lime juice and knew it was all worth it in the end.

eggplants
hot spicy sour eggplant curry

This sour curry should be served hot with rice or bread or eaten directly. 

sour eggplant curry

sour eggplant curry

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

1lb baby eggplants
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoon coconut oil
4 dried red chili peppers, whole (I used Kashmiri chili peppers)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups red onion thinly sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 inch ginger root, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 can/13.66 fluid ounces/403mL light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
fresh mint leaves to garnish

1. Cut the eggplants crosswise from the bottom but leave the stems attached. Immerse the eggplants in a bowl containing cold water and vinegar to prevent blackening. Keep aside until ready to use
2. Heat the coconut oil in a large wok or saucepan with a lid on medium high for about 30 seconds. Add the chili and cumin to the wok and cook for 15 seconds. Immediately add the onions, turmeric powder and ginger root, stir occasionally and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. At this point, drain the eggplants and add them to the wok, sauté on medium high for about 3 minutes, stir occasionally. The eggplants should have their skins slightly seared.
3. Add the coconut milk, water and salt. Bring the contents to a boil on a medium high flame and the reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the eggplants are tender enough that a fork can easily pass through the flesh. Once the eggplant is cooked, fold in the fresh lemon juice. Cook for another minute and remove from the stove. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve hot with rice or flat bread.

indian-style sweet and sour pickled rhubarb

sweet and sour rhubarb pickles

This is the season for fresh produce and I enjoy taking advantage of it whenever possible. Though it's the end of spring here and the start of summer, the temperatures have been a bit cooler than usual and I haven't really ventured out to the local farmer's markets in D.C. as much as I would like to. Rhubarb has quickly become a favorite in the kitchen and I always pick up some at the farmer's market. This time I decided that I'd do something completely different and work on a pickled recipe for this season, just to have a little stash tucked away for the cooler months to come. 

rhubarb
chipotle chili pepper

Indian pickles are very different from western pickles. They combine a complex mix of flavors and spices. The diversity in flavors can vary from super hot to mild, to sweet to tart, or a combination of all or some. They generally use a bit of oil and some acid and sometimes sugar to preserve the vegetable or fruit that's being pickled. This pickled rhubarb recipe incorporates all of those tastes and preserving agents. Honestly, I wasn't really sure how rhubarb would taste when pickled but amazingly enough it absorbed all the flavors making it very tasty.

Pickled Rhubarb

The end product was tender and sweet, sour, and mildly hot. The rhubarb stalks got soft as they aged and pickled in the vinegar and were ready to eat after a week. This pickle goes delicious in sandwiches with roast meat (beef and lamb), chicken, turkey and even vegetables. It also goes really well with simple meal of rice and fish. Feel free to adjust the recipe quantities, if you want to make more, I made two jars and will probably scale this up once I pick up some more rhubarb (I got a couple of requests to make some more).

Grape vines sprouting back in Spring sweet and sour rhubarb pickle

indian-style sweet and sour pickled rhubarb

yields: two 500 ml jars

ingredients

8 rhubarb stalks, cleaned and trimmed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 dried chipotle chili pepper, whole
2 tablespoons ginger root, peeled and julienned
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 cup jaggery or raw brown sugar
2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Cut the rhubarb stalks length-wise in half and then cut them into 4 inch pieces. Divide them equally into two clean sterile canning jars. Keep covered with a clean sterile cloth or paper towel.
2. Heat up a thick bottomed-sauce pan on a medium-high flame. Add the olive oil and heat till the oil. When the oil is hot (but not smoky), slice the chipotle pepper in half and add it with the seeds into the hot oil. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and immediately add the ginger, cumin, turmeric, and fenugreek seeds. (If anything burns toss the oil out and begin again). 
3. Carefully add the jaggery and stir continuously. The jaggery will melt and being to caramelize a little in the oil. Slowly fold in the vinegar (be careful at this stage) and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Cook the liquid for another minute or two. Switch the stove off and add the salt (taste the liquid to make sure the salt and sweetness is enough and adjust accordingly. Do not add water at any stage, just add more vinegar). 
4. Pour the hot liquid along with the spices into jars containing the rhubarb. Place one chipotle pepper in each jar. Seal with sterile lids and process for 20 minutes to can. Store in a cool, dark and dry place. Let the pickles age for a week before opening.