Sunday, August 25, 2013

So, an Eggplant and a Can of Coconut Milk Walk into a Pan...

Summertime = Fresh Veggie Time

Most of our eats these days are coming from fresh veggies either from the local farmers market, our garden or the garden of a friend. It's my most favorite time of the year (cooking-wise). The local farmers market is abound with eggplants which are a favorite in this mostly vegetarian house. One quick go to dinner I make is a curry and luck would have it that we have a can of coconut milk.

Eggplant Curry it shall be.

Veggies for Curry:

  • Eggplant from the farmers market
  • Bell Peppers from the farmers market 
  • Squash from our garden 
  • Onions from the farmers market
  • Garlic from the farmers market 
  • Serrano Pepper from the garden at school 
  • Green cabbage from the farmers market to top the curry

Other items around the kitchen:

  • One can of coconut milk 
  • Coconut oil
  • Half a package of tofu
  • Brown Basmati rice 
  • Curry powder 

The rice goes on first since it takes the longest. Years ago my mom found that cooking rice in the microwave makes it come out perfect every time and prevents the rice from burning to the bottom of the  pan, which can happen if you are doing other things in the kitchen. I like to put it in for 20 min at first and then reassess after that to see if more water is needed. The rice usually takes about 35-40 min total in the microwave, and comes out pretty much perfect every time.

As the rice is doing its thing, the curry gets prepped. I usually use olive oil when cooking, but for dishes like this I like to use coconut oil. Oil goes into the pan to heat up, and is followed by the onions and garlic. As this heats up I prep the eggplant, squash and bell peppers by cutting them into small cubes. When the onions and garlic are cooked soft, the veggies go in along with the coconut milk and curry powder. I want the eggplant to soak up as much of the flavors as they can, and since this is a quick dish, I want to maximize their time together. I'm a bit afraid of the Serrano pepper since I don't love a lot of spice, but I figure the coconut milk will help temper the heat, so in it goes.
Coconut milk, garlic, Serrano top and Eggplant all hanging out 

I want to incorporate the tofu into this dish and decide to cook it separately and make it a crunchy topping. Sometimes the tofu does not hold up in curry dishes and I want to avoid more mushiness in the curry. It goes into the cast iron on high heat with the coconut oil to crisp up.
As the curry starts to bubble I check in on the rice, add a bit more water and put it in for about 10 more min and start to cut up the cabbage. I want to keep the cabbage raw and crunchy. It could easily go into the dish but since the eggplant curry and the rice are going to be the same consistency I want to keep it raw for a different texture and I also want it to keep its sweetness to complement the sweetness of the coconut milk. 

It even crunches when you cut it
The rice is done, the curry has melded and the tofu is crispy. That means it is time to plate it up. 
Ready to eat

I just love veggies and this is a great way to let them shine. They are coated in the spicy coconut milk curry sauce that has an extra bite because of the Serrano. The rices does its job of soaking up all the extra goodness. The cabbage and tofu toping keep the dish from being one demential. I always wish I would take the time to make curry the slow way, but in the end I just ask "why really?" because this quick way, about 35 min, is just as good. 
Clearly enjoying dinner. 

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