Every so often the great event we know as Summer lends itself to some excellent cuisine from the wonderful country of India, when I think of India, I think of sweltering hot summers, chilis spicy enough to blow your head off, and curry. I was craving curry with an addicts affection the other day and decided to browse the pantry to see what I could come up with. I also decided that since it’s a ridiculously hot day. I decided smoking my curry would lend some interesting flavors. Please Enjoy the recipe. Any feedback is always welcome.
What you will need:
3 medium tomatoes
6 whole cashew nuts(roasted, you can also use almonds or peanuts, whatever you happen to have available really)
1 tablespoon butter, clarified butter or vegetable oil
½ lb American eggplant. (meaning the really fat extra purple ones)
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon garam masala (which you can find at your local Indian food store)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds.
1 teaspoon lemon juice, you may need more or less depending on how tart the tomatoes are.
For smoking the curry:
1 lump of charcoal, about the size of a large peach
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Boil a medium pot of water, and drop the tomatoes in whole. When the tomato skins start to blister, drain them and let them cool a bit. Then peel the tomato skins and discard. Core the tomato if you’d like. Place the skinned, cored tomatoes in a blender along with the cashew nuts and puree. Set this aside.
Cut the eggplant into 1 to 1 and 1/2 inch diced cubes.
Heat butter, or oil in a medium, heavy bottomed skillet. Add the eggplant, and let them brown a little on medium-high heat, about 3-5 minutes depending on your stovetop. Then add ginger and garlic. Stir on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the garam masala and chili powder and cook another 30 seconds.
Pour in the tomato puree and salt. Boil for around 8 or 9 minutes minutes or till the eggplant is cooked and the sauce has thickened a little. If the sauce gets too thick, sprinkle some water over it.( you can also use a little veggie stock if you happen to have it handy)
Turn off heat. Taste the curry and add lemon juice
Now comes the fun part – smoke the curry!
Hold a piece of charcoal, using tongs, over an open flame. You can do this on an open gas flame, or an outdoor grill. Heat it till it becomes red hot.. Now you need to work quickly. Place the red hot coal in a small bowl.
Immediately place the bowl inside the skillet with the eggplant curry. Pour the oil over the coal, so that it smokes. Quickly place a lid over the skillet. Let the smoke from the charcoal infuse into the covered curry for about 6 minutes. The longer the charcoal bowl sits in the skillet, the smokier your curry will get.
Remove the bowl from the skillet, and discard the charcoal. Serve the smoked eggplant curry with rice, or naan bread, or both. if you can’t find naan bread at your local Indian market, flour tortillas make a decent substitution.
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