1 tsp. brown mustard seeds 3 T. veg oil or ghee 1 onion, sliced thinly lengthwise 2 in. piece of ginger, peeled and chopped very finely 4 long eggplants (often called "Chinese"), quartered and sliced into 1 in. chunks 1/2 tsp. turmeric 2 tsp. Sambhar Masala (see The Story) 1 14oz can diced tomatoes 1 or 2 hot chile peppers, chopped pretty darn finely 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper salt to taste 1 cup or so water, veg stock or leftover bean cooking liquid
Heat oil in large pot; add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the onion. Stir & fry for a minute or two, then add the ginger, and keep stirring until the onions brown nicely. Add the eggplant; stir to coat with oil and stirfry for 5 min. Add the turmeric and Sambhar Masala; fry for a minute until the kitchen smells heavenly. Add the tomatoes & your choice of liquid, the pepper, some salt, and the chile(s). Stir well; bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and let cook for a good half hour, until the eggplant is lovely soft and the chiles have made it spicy. Serve over brown basmati rice.The Story
Was going to pick up the ingredients for dinner, but too expensive. I pretty much invented this out of what I had in the fridge. Nice hearty stewed dish. I served it with roasted cauliflower & sweet potatoes (cut into similarly-sized pieces, toss with oil and a few cumin seeds, roast at 375 until brown in spots, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes; dust with Garam Masala and you're all set.)
This is about as traditionally Indian as I am- not at all. But it's inspired by those flavors, and I did get some of the ingredients at the local Indo-Pak grocery. That's something, isn't it?*Sambhar Masala is a spice blend, like curry powder and Garam Masala. I made my own from a recipe in a book. Here are some places if you want to make your own: IndiaCurry.com's Sambhar Masala or Food-India.com's Sambhar Masala. A quick Google search reveals, as expected, that there are as many versions of this as there are Indian cooks. I bet you could buy one from a quality spice vendor, too.