If you've been following this blog for a while, then you will know that I love the following things: almost anything that I can cook using one pan (two at the most); bold, flavourful dishes that are either Mediterranean or Asian inspired; using fresh, seasonal ingredients with a minimal amount of meat - which also explains my love of the food philosophy and recipes of Mark Bittman; and, my iPhone.
My recipe this week comes about as a happy collision of all of these things - like one of those wonderous moments when the planets align themselves - actually I'm not entirely sure what would happen then, but I'm pretty sure it would be wonderous!!
Now I know that you can probably see the connection between the first three things on the list, but you're no doubt wondering what the iPhone has to do with anything. Be patient - I'll get to that.
As you know, for the last few weeks I have been joining in with the I Heart Cooking Clubs group, cooking the recipes of Mark Bittman (aka The Minimalist). This week our theme was Pot Luck, which in short meant that we didn't have to stick to any theme whatsoever - we were given free license to cook anything we liked as long as, of course, it was a Mark Bittman recipe.
Okay, I'm sure you're with me so far. Next step was deciding what kind of dish I wanted to make - I felt I wanted something savoury (not a dessert), and something fairly hearty. As we get deeper into autumn now, although the days have been spectacular, the nights are definitely getting cooler - it's time for more substantial food. In my vegetable crisper I happened to have a couple of bags of gorgeous aubergines that I had picked up at the Lyttelton Farmers Market last weekend, which were just begging to be turned into something, and they would for sure lend themselves to some kind of Mediterranean or Asian style dish.
So time to decide on a recipe, with aubergine as the key ingredient. I would start with a search of online recipes first ... but wait I'll just do a quick Twitter check first since I'm at the computer anyway (as you do), and holy guacamole I discover an iPhone application for "How to Cook Everything" has just been released this very day - all 2,000 recipes and variations from the book, how-to illustrations, a place to keep favourites, shopping lists, built-in timers - and all for only US$1.99 (that worked out at $2.60 in my money) - that's less than the price of a cup of coffee for goodness sake. It took just seconds to download, and hey presto I now have the whole book at my fingertips any time, any place. A quick browse of the recipes, selecting eggplant as my main ingredient turned up 23 different suggestions, and it took me scarcely a moment to know that this recipe had my name written all over it.
This dish ticked all the boxes for me - a creamy coconut curry was the perfect thing for a cool autumn evening; I had all the ingredients needed on hand, with the exception of coriander, but I did have some fresh kaffir lime leaves which, finely shredded, would make a nice substitute; chopping board to table time - about 45 minutes; and of course I could make the whole dish in one pot - score! This curry delivered plenty of flavour (though I think I would increase the cumin a bit next time) and a good bit of heat from the cayenne pepper. The aubergine and potatoes (I put in some green beans as well) had beautiful texture and worked together beautifully; both soaked up plenty of flavour without losing body. I will for sure be making this again, and I wouldn't hesitate to bring this dish if I was coming to a pot luck dinner at your place.
Do you have a favourite dish that you go to regularly for a pot luck? I'd love to hear.
Curried Coconut Aubergine with Potatoes Recipe
Adapted from Mark Bittman's
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1) The quantities and selection of vegetables does not need to be precise. Feel free to try adding other vegetables such as cauliflower, mushrooms or red peppers, or adjusting the quantities and proportions to suit what you have on hand or what is available.
2) The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons sliced garlic. I cut this back considerably, which for me was really an occupational consideration rather than one of taste - hey, I'm a yoga teacher ... when I'm getting up-close and personal with you in a posture, I'm pretty sure you don't want me breathing last night's garlic fumes all over you. So feel free to boost the garlic quantity if you like more.
3) You could substitute 2-3 tablespoons of green or red curry paste for the ingredients listed from mustard seeds through to garlic.
2-3 pounds aubergine
(I used 750g aubergine & 250g green beans)
3 large potatoes
(I used up 9 small new potatoes)
3-4 tomatoes (depending on size), OR
can of tomatoes including their juice
1 tablespoon unflavoured oil, such as sunflower
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
425ml can coconut milk
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1-2 limes
coriander, freshly chopped
(I substituted 2 finely shredded kaffir lime leaves)
First prepare the vegetables. Cut the aubergine into 2cm cubes (you can do the salting & standing thing if you like, but as I had baby aubergines and as they are not going to be fried in lots of oil I don't think it's necessary). If using green beans, cut the stalk ends off, and you may or may not want to cut them into shorter lengths - up to you. Cut the potatoes into 2cm cubes (mine were very small, so I just quartered them). Peel, core and deseed the tomatoes, and then chop the flesh into smallish dice.
Put the mustard seeds and oil into a large pot and set over medium heat. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, add in the remaining spices, the garlic and ginger, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time, or until the garlic and ginger have softened, taking care not to let them burn.
Add the tomatoes, potatoes, aubergine, and coconut milk. Add a generous pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. (If using beans, don't put them in just yet). As soon as everything starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
(I also had some of these kaffir limes that I picked up at the market, so I cut the rinds off one of them and dropped them in while the curry simmered away, together with the finely shredded kaffir lime leaves. I really love the way this "fragrances" the dish, as well as enhancing flavour, but this is not in the original recipe, and you should feel free to leave it out altogether if you like.)
After about 20 minutes of simmering, add the green beans, add some more coconut milk or water if it is looking a bit dry, and allow to simmer for about another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.
Stir in the lime juice, and taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve with steamed basmati rice and garnish with freshly chopped coriander.
Do go and visit I Heart Cooking Club, and see what everyone else has been cooking up for our Mark Bittman Pot Luck - you'll find plenty to inspire every palate.