Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Kingfisher World Curry Week

Running from October 16 to 22, Kingfisher World Curry Week® is a seven-day festival of the food and culture of the Indian subcontinent that has the additional goal of raising money for the international charity Action Against Hunger. Another excellent organization fighting hunger and poverty is Oxfam America.

The currently accepted definition of "curry" is quite broad, and seems to encompass any spiced mixture of meat or vegetables that is served with rice or bread (see my Curry Leaves post for background on the word). So even though the cookbook calls this a "sauce", in the spirit of Curry Week, I hereby declare my version to be a "curry".

South Indian Eggplant-Tomato-Tamarind Curry

3/4-inch diameter piece of tamarind pulp
1/2 cup hot water
1 t. black mustard seeds
1 t. cumin seeds
1 t. split urad dal
2 t. chopped garlic
1/2 t. tumeric
2 t. sambaar powder or curry powder
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cups tomatoes. If fresh, cut into six wedge-pieces. If canned, chopped roughly
1 pound eggplant, cut into strips that are 1/2-inch by about 1 to 2 inches. Long, thin Japanese, Italian or Chinese would be best, but globe would be fine too.
3-12 hot green chiles, finely chopped (e.g., serrano)
8-10 fresh or dried kari (curry) leaves
2 T. flaked coconut
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon)

In a glass or ceramic bowl, soak the tamarind bowl in the hot water for about 30 minutes. Use a strainer to separate the pulp from the seeds and strings. Set the liquid aside for use at the end of the process.

Combine the tomatoes, eggplant, chiles, kari leaves and coconut in a bowl.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. When it is very hot but not smoking, add the mustard seeds, keeping the lid nearby in case the seeds spatter too much. When the seeds stop popping, add the cumin and urad dal. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the garlic, tumeric and sambaar powder. Stir a few times, then add the onions. Saute for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients except for the tamarind liquid.

Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often for 6-8 minutes. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the eggplant is tender. Then stir in the tamarind juice. Cook covered for another 10 minutes.

Adapted from Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking, by Julie Sahni.

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