What do pregnant, spice-loving vegetarians dream about, you wonder?
Why, Indian food, of course.
|Eggplant, sliced and roasted for 20 min before it was peeled and chopped.
No joke, I have lost sleep this month as I struggled in dream-world to make the perfect dal makhani, garlic naan and channa chat.
Something is definitely wrong with me, I know. It’s just not normal.
(…except for the fact that this IS normal for me when I am pregnant. I crave more of what I already love: spicy, ethnic foods. Mmmmm).
|Onions sauteeing with cumin seed…oh, my, the smell…good things are a-happenin’
So, naturally, these unstoppable cravings (and the fact that my nearest Indian restaurant is 1/2 hr away-BOO) have led me to spend my spare time slaving away in the kitchen to create the perfect Indian dishes (none of which I share with any member of my family, due to the fact that I like my spice level at a 9 out of 10, and they…well, not so much).
Oh well. More for me (and baby).
|Clockwise from top left: fresh grated ginger and minced garlic, fresh tomato, thin-sliced onion, and
jalapeno pepper (with some seeds left in)
All of this madness started when I ran into my missionary friends,
Jacob and Jaya Beera,
at our family’s Thanksgiving dinner in November. While everyone else ooohed and ahhhed over the turkey and stuffing, I leaned over the table and longingly discussed my favorite Indian cuisines with these two friends of mine.
Hard as it is to believe, a whopping 16 years ago, I had the privilege of spending a whole month in southeast India with them as a part of their incredible ministry.
My life and worldview was completely changed by that trip, and the people, customs and foods of India were emblazoned upon my heart…and, errr…taste buds, forever.
I am pretty sure I could eat Indian food every day of my life and be just fine, thank you very much.
…no, I couldn’t.
Because inevitably I would crave Mexican food again…then Greek and middle-Eastern cuisine…then surely pan-Asian would be next. Then Mexican again.
But I’d still live a mighty fine life if all I had to eat every day was rice and curry.
(And maybe some naan thrown in for good measure).
(…And a few samosas topped with chutney from time to time).
(And why not some chai tea and rice pudding while we’re at it).
But I digress.
After listening to this poor pregnant woman go on and on and ON about Indian food for the entirety of the Thanksgiving dinner, these two did the sweetest thing I think anyone has ever done for me.
They left, when across town to their house, and came back, bearing THE BEST possible kind of gift for their crazy, curry-loving American friend.
They brought me authentic, Indian curry powder…and not just a little bit.
They brought me a quart-sized bag of curry powder.
I mean, what a royal gift.
|Curry actually means “spice mix” and there are literally THOUSANDS of different kinds of curries!
(I’m pretty sure they’re all delish).
Now, in case you didn’t know it already, real, Indian curry powder is one in which each spice is ground up individually (in India, mind you) and combined according to the preference of the buyer. And no, that shady stuff you can find in your grocer’s spice isle can’t even hold a candle to it.
This is the REAL DEAL, baby.
As if that wasn’t enough, they brought me a bag piled full of frozen Indian entrees, made in their home, with their own hands.
Seriously, what love. I was in tears.
And I assure you, I enjoyed every last bite of each one.
Was the green banana (plantain) curry my favorite?
Or the dal curry with collard greens?
No, actually, I think it was the eggplant curry that stole the show for me.
(And each one was so spicy, even my tastebuds were a little blown away by the spicy YUMMINESS of it all!)
God bless ya, Jacob and Jaya. You two are somethin’ else.
|The Beera Family
Aaaaand here comes the shameless plug: visit hope4india.org to find out more about what the Beeras do, and to support their incredible ministry to the people of India.
I really do think my friends would be proud of me, cuz for the past few months, I’ve been putting my curry powder to very good use.
And today, dear readers, I tried my very first eggplant curry. While it wasn’t exactly on par with the Beera’s, I think it turned out beautifully, and is worth sharing with you here.
It’s not hard, and the only thing you truly need to hunt down before you start is a good, quality curry powder. Now…please, please do not just go buy a can of McCormick curry powder.
At the least, pay a visit to your local Indian grocery store and get something of quality.
It will make all the difference, I promise.
While this was my first go at eggplant curry, I’ve made enough other Indian curries by now to understand the basic process, and so this recipe is my own adaptation of the few eggplant curry recipes I’ve seen or eaten.
|Here, the other ingredient-friends join the happy spice party (sorry for the blurry photo).
|After simmering together for 10 minutes, it is perfect. Someone pass me the rice, puh-LEEZ!
THERE ARE NO WORDS
(except perhaps “get in my mouth now…” and maybe “give me MORE”
Yes. Those would be appropriate expressions here.
And ONLY if you are 3 1/2 and you cannot yet appreciate Indian food, will you be excused from rudely commenting that “that looks gross.”)
Come on, don’t be intimidated.
Try it already!
Indian food is fun to make (and even more fun to eat). It’s so gosh-darn full of flavor and goodness, your tastebuds will demand that you make it more often.
for the complete recipe.
*NOTE: If your are worried about the spice level, you can tone that down based on the kind of curry powder you buy. Some are mild, others are firey. Mine is medium-hot, and I still enjoy chopping up a few hot peppers with most curries I make. You can certainly adapt yours to fit your taste-buds.
For some creaminess, I added yogurt to mine. Some curries (like the famous Chicken Masala) call for heavy cream to add some richness to the sauce.
Happy (spicy) cooking, ya’ll,
and Namaste! 🙂