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“A Tale of Two Curries”

December 9, 2011

Eating this dinner was really only “the best of times”, because both of these curries are awesome! I really love making them together – it’s not that much more work and the meal you get out of it feels pretty gourmet especially when you flesh it out with the “Serve With” options.

Roasted Eggplant Curry 

This is a great between seasons curry because it’s best with fresh rather than canned tomatoes, but it’s not inherently summery. Then again, maybe you don’t have this no curries in summer prejudice at all. It drives Hélène crazy that I’m constantly vetoing squashes and other perceived ‘wintery’ foods until at least September.

1 eggplant, cut in half, brushed with olive oil on the open faces, and cooked face down on a cookie sheet until soft
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin
dash cayenne

Heat a pan on medium, add 1 tsp neutral oil (canola, vegetable, etc.) and mustard seeds. Cover with a lid. As the oil heats up, the mustard seeds will begin popping. Once this starts to slow down, add the onions and take off the lid. Cook until brown, then add garlic and tomatoes. Sauté for 1 minute, then scoop out the eggplant into the pan. Cook for at least 15 minutes – the eggplant will change consistency and the dish will come together really well. Add other spices and keep warm until ready to serve.

Spinach Curry/Saag “Paneer”

Saag paneer is one of my favourite Indian dishes but I don’t have time to make paneer (or, face it, the skill) and I don’t live near Main and 49th – the area of town with the awesome Indian grocery stores! So instead, I make this dish with tofu, an innovation I’m extremely proud of because it’s super delicious and incredibly easy. Also a bit healthier, depending on your feelings about soy! (I feel good about it.)

1 bunch spinach, stems removed, blended in food processor with 1/2 cup water
1/2 onion, diced (see how brilliant it is to make both curries together? no leftover onion!)
1/2 block firm tofu, diced into small cubes (approx 1/2 inch) – I find firm tofu soaks up the flavour better than extra firm, and better mimicks the texture of paneer
1-2 tsp curry powder
optional: 2 tsp heavy cream or half and half

Sauté the onion until beginning to brown, then add the tofu, stirring often. Once the tofu begins to sear, add the blended spinach mixture. Like the eggplant curry, it is best to cook this dish for longer because the spinach also changes consistency and the tofu soaks up more of the flavour. Add curry powder and salt partway through, and feel free to add any other spices to taste – cayenne, coriander, cumin, garam masala, etc.

Serve With: Saffron rice, naan bread, raita (most simply, yogurt with garam masala)

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