spiced aubergine & sweet potato curry

5th December 2010

My vegetable garden is made up of six triangles in the shape of a mandala with an olive tree in the middle and a seat around.  My sanctuary, my space where I find quiet, my contentment and peace.

When I work in my garden, I usually start from one triangle and work my way around until all are rotated, weeded, mulched and planted to my satisfaction.  By the time I finish with triangle six, it is time to start at the beginning again and around I go. A cycle or circle of meditation.  There are bees, butterflies, snails, big juicy green caterpillars, foxes, woodpeckers, parrots, and a mole that drives me incessantly crazy.  But my favourite of all, is my friend, the kingfisher.  In the triangular closest to us, there is a knobbly stick which I especially put in for my friend, the elegant, but grand kingfisher to sit on.  And he does sit there, but always flies off before I can get really close to appreciate him and his long beak and aqua, blue wings.

At present, I am up to triangle six, with the last of all the Summer things growing at their dreary end, but still with edible fruit.  This is where the eggplant plant is, a little unruly, but full of black globes.  I have been trying to use them in all different ways, one being this lovely fragrant curry. The sweet potato and aubergine absorb all the beautiful, complex flavours.

spiced aubergine & sweet potato curry

Serves 4

ingredients :

1 medium eggplant – cut in small cubes

1 small sweet potato – cut into small cubes

12 cherry tomatoes/3 tomatoes – chopped into small pieces

3 Tbsp ghee/olive oil

1-inch knob ginger, grated

3 cardamon pods

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 cups water

cup red lentils

1 Tblsp tomato paste

½ tsp sambar powder (or chilli powder)

½ tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

handful beans, and or spinach/kale

fresh coriander

salt and pepper, to taste

preparation :

First, prepare the aubergine.  Cut them into 1 cm circles, and then into small cubes.  Place in a colander, salt well and set aside to draw out the bitter juices for 10 mins.  Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes.  Chop the tomatoes into small pieces.

Pat the aubergine cubes with kitchen paper.  Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the ghee/oil and heat until almost smoking.  Fry the aubergine until golden brown on both sides, then remove and drain on kitchen towel.

Place a heavy bottomed cooking pot over medium heat add the aubergine, sweet potato and tomato, ginger, cardamom and turmeric. Simmer for 10 mins.  Pour in 2 cups of water, cup lentils, sambar powder and tomato paste.  Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the lentils are broken down.

In a separate pan, heat a little ghee, add the mustard seeds, and when they turn grey and pop, add the cumin seeds.  Quickly add this to the curry before the cumin seeds get a chance to burn.  Add a handful of spinach, kale or green beans (will need a bit longer to cook). Gently warm through.  Add salt, pepper and fresh coriander.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Goodness shared from Stacey

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