Eggplant, Chickpea, and Spinach Curry

I adapted this recipe from Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking: More Than 500 Recipes from India's Greatest Culinary Tradition by Yamuna Devi. I decreased the required oil and arranged the format for easier tracking of the steps. Except for my husband, who hates cooked spinach, everyone who has tasted this adores it. It's layered with strong, distinctive flavors, the epitome of a great plant-based dish. 

Serves 4-6

Prepare rice. Get rice ready – start soaking the basmati rice 45 minutes before serving (soak for 30 minutes, cook for 11-13 minutes) or start cooking brown rice 45 minutes before serving. Or set up the rice cooker, if you have one.

Prepare eggplant. Peel eggplant (if desired) and slice into ½” slices. Brush the slices with vegetable or olive oil on both sides and lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you like; don’t use parchment paper, which can burn under the broiler).

  • 1 medium sized eggplant (1 - 1.25 pound)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

Heat the broiler to 500° or High and move the top-most oven shelf to within 3-4” of the broiler element. Broil the slices until they are brown but not charred (check after 5 minutes). Then flip the slices over and broil for 4 minutes until brown. Let them cool. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop and set aside. 

Heat oil and toss in the seeds. Heat a very large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven. When the pan is warm but not smoking, add the oil and seeds and stir until seeds are dark brown (1-2 minutes).

  • ½ Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin seeds

Add onion. Add onion and cook until it’s transparent (about 5 minutes). Add a little water as necessary to prevent burning.

  • ½ cup finely chopped white, yellow, or red onion

Add ginger and garlic. Add them and cook for 1-2 minutes.

  • 1.5 Tablespoon fresh ginger root, scraped and minced
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced

Add ground spices. Add and stir for 1-2 minutes.

  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (regular, not sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon each cayenne and black pepper

Add fresh chilies. Add minced chilies and stir just to combine.

  • 2 hot green chilies stemmed, seeded and finely minced (jalapenos for milder spiciness or slender green chilies for hotter)

Add main-ingredient vegetables and liquids. Add the ingredients below, bring mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and gently simmer for 20 minutes.

  • The broiled eggplant pieces
  • One 14-oz. can diced or petite diced tomatoes
  • One 16-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Add the thickening agent. Add spinach and cook for 10 more minutes.

  • One 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and patted dry (or 1 pound fresh spinach, washed, trimmed, and chopped)

Before serving with rice, stir in final fresh vegetables and spices. Stir these in.

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

Timing: About 70 minutes

Nutrition: Except for the oil, this is whole-food unprocessed


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