Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I can't believe it's vegan!: Tomato-chickpea curry in eggplant shells

For those of you who don't know, I am doing the whole vegan thing for Lent. This means no meat, dairy, eggs, or honey. I'm at day 6 and so far it's been easy. Of course this could be because I've devoured all the vegan cookbooks the library offers and spent a small fortune at Whole Foods.

The Tomato-Chickpea Curry in Eggplant Shells was my first true vegan recipe:
From the All New Vegan Cookbook by Lorna Sass

Serves 4

2 medium eggplants (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each) note: I only use one eggplant since I was cooking for 1
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
salt to taste, plus 1/4 teaspoon
freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds (they're actually reddish brown)
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 1/2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 15-oz (or in my case 14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes with liquid
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) or 1 15-oz can, drained
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened, grated coconut
chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Now before I get to the directions I should point out a few things:
1) I photocopied this recipe (along with another) and then loaned the book to Sharona
2) Spices are wicked expensive and I can't afford to keep buying a new bottle for every recipe. Also, did you know spices are really only potent for about 6 months? I discovered a local co-op had spice bins where you can take exactly as much of a given spice as you need. And it's cheap. I spent $1.24 on three little bags of spices.

1. Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Lightly oil one or two roasting pants large enough to hold the eggplant halves in one layer. Add 1/8 inch of water.
2. Leaving stem intact (I don't see why this is necessary because it doesn't look that pretty and I accidentally ate part of it by mistake and it was gross), halve the eggplants. Use the tip of a pairing knife to score the flesh side deeply in a crisscross pattern. Brush the cut side with oil, season with salt and pepper, and set flesh side down in the roasting pans. Brush the skins with oil.

3. Roast until the eggplants are tender and easily pierced with the tip of a pairing knife, 18-25 minutes (check after 10 minutes and add water if needed). When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, use a pairing or a grapefruit knife to create a 1/2 inch "wall" all around, and then scoop out the flesh. Coarsely chop the flesh (including seeds) and set aside. Lightly season the eggplant shells with salt and pepper, and reserve them in a warm place.
chef's note: while eggplants are roasting and cooling, chop the onions using your onion chopper (if you don't have one, you should consider getting one. They're great!) Prep the rest of your ingredients.
4. To prepare the filling, first toast the mustard seeds: heat 1 table spoon of oil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat. Stir in the mustard seeds, cover the pot, and leave the heat turned to high. Listen carefully: as soon as you hear the mustard seeds begin to pop against the lid, turn off the heat and remove to a cool burner, and wait for the popping to subside. Most of the seeds should now be gray.

After I got to step 4 I realized I was missing the second half of my directions. Now I'm sure I could have figured out how to mix it all together, but I called Sharona and fortunately she was home and still had the cookbook, so she was able to read the rest of the recipe to me.

5. Stir onions into seeds and brown 4-5 minutes.
6. Add curry powder and cook for 10 seconds, then add tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut, eggplant flesh, salt, and Cayenne.
7. Simmer for 15 minutes (use this time to clean the kitchen and wash dishes if necessary) and add curry. Add salt and water if needed.
8. Mound filling
Optional step 9: place eggplant shells on a bed of lettuce for a beautiful presentation.

I really liked this and normally I'm not a big curry kind of gal. But it's hearty and pretty and very filling. In fact, I've gotten 4 meals out of the 2 eggplant halves. Now that's bang for your buck. I also wrapped some of the filling in romaine leaves and ate it that way, like a vegan Indian burrito.

Will I make this again? Of course! Maybe next time I'll add some cous cous.

1 comment:

Vegan Scott said...

Thanks for the recipe! I need these to help me with my veganism. I'll try it soon. Thanks again!