Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spicy Eggplant & Potato Stew

Over the weekend I finally got around to recipe #2 of the crock pot challenge, with a brand new crock pot I was eager to test out. A few weeks ago I realized I had a bunch of credit card reward points that had just been sitting there forever, and my old crock pot was looking pretty sad - the handles had fallen off, the lid din't stay on tight and it generally looked like a rickety mess - so I traded in my points for a lovely new model. Can't beat free kitchen appliances. Bye bye college crock pot, hellooo Stay or Go!

I'm psyched to finally have a crock pot that I can lock and take with me to other people's houses without spilling all over the place. I'm still haunted by a Superbowl party I went to a few years ago toting hot pizza dip in the crock pot, which tipped over and spilled tomato sauce all over my car floor. That was fun.

I've been on a bit of an Indian kick lately, and when menu planning a few weeks ago I came across a recipe for Eggplant and Potato Curry in my Slow Cooker Recipes cookbook. I made quite a few changes - their version didn't have enough goin' on for me - and it turned out delicious.

It's filled with potatoes, ginger, onions and garlic, and if you're not an eggplant fan I bet you won't even taste it here. It literally melts into nothing and creates a really flavorful sauce.

It also has a pretty powerful kick, but you can tone down the heat if you prefer less spice. And also, if you don't feel like doing the crock pot thing, this can just as easily simmer the stew on the stove all afternoon if you're at home.

Matt topped his curry with some leftover Indian-spiced chicken he had on hand, but this is definitely hearty enough for a filling vegetarian meal. I felt it needed some brightness after cooking all afternoon, so I topped our bowls with a squeeze of fresh lemon, some chopped cilantro, and a few peanuts for crunch.

Now I promise to be done with the masala spice for a few days. ;-)

Spicy Eggplant & Potato Stew

Serves 3-4

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into cubes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. ginger powder
1 long hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. chana masala spice (any masala blend will do; omit if you don't like it spicy)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups water
2 potatoes, chopped in large pieces
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lemon
Chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)

In a saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant and half the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to the pan, then add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic, fresh ginger, ginger powder, hot pepper, curry powder, masala spice, remaining salt, and pepper; stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Then stir in tomato paste and 1 cup water; stir until tomato paste is combined. Add mixture to the cooked eggplant.

*Note: At this point, the mixture may be added to the slow cooker right away, or it can be refrigerated overnight and put in the slow cooker the next day. Alternatively, the mixture can be put into a stock pot and simmered on the stove on medium-low heat for 2-3 hours.

Put eggplant & potato mixture into a crock pot, then add remaining 1 cup water. Cook on low for about 6-7 hours, or on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft.

When serving, squeeze with fresh lemon and top with cilantro and peanuts.

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