Warm Indian spices give farm-fresh vegetables an exotic flavor in this quick and healthy dish! Curried Okra and Eggplant incorporates approachable Indian curry cooking methods with farm-fresh veggies and protein and fiber rich chick peas for a healthy vegetarian meal served with rice or a tasty side dish with grilled fish or chicken.
Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.
~~ H.G. Wells, English writer in many genres
Perhaps this is a bit melodramatic when speaking of one’s preferred cooking appliance, but cooking on a fancy glass cooktop has been more than a challenge for this girl! I’ve yet to run into a serious cook/chef that was satisfied with the experience of cooking on an electric cooktop. The lack of control (and fire) brings an element of risk to even a simple dish like Curried Okra and Eggplant!
Alas, natural gas is not available in the newer subdivisions of McAllen, Texas, so I am resigned to adapting to my new “normal.” So, I am cooking stir-fried Indian-style curried vegetables trying to find the “sweet spot” on my Bosch electric glass cooktop… The line is very fine between smoking hot and just a simmer it seems. 😉
The Rio Grande Valley produces an amazing bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh okra is one of my favorite vegetables, and rarely could I get it in New Mexico. It seems to be a “regular” item at our wonderful farmers’ markets and even the north McAllen HEB (which is beyond fabulous!). Curried Okra and Eggplant combines fresh okra with eggplant, tiny tomatoes, and chick peas (garbanzo beans). The recipe probably doesn’t qualify as “authentic” Indian, but the flavors are definitely Indian. I rarely use generic curry powder in a recipe, rather I combine spices, and sometimes toast and grind them myself. For more on what “curry” is and isn’t see Chana Dal with Spinach, and for a summary of the Indian cuisine flavor profile see Flavor Profiles.
This recipe uses garam (hot) masala (a mixture of spices). The ground spice mixture varies from region to region, and none is considered more authentic than any other. Typically, garam masala includes cardamom, black pepper, cloves, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I usually add garam masala near the end of the cooking process, and this recipe is no exception. The recipe starts with a hot wok or sauté pan with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil. A mixture of onion, fresh ginger, and garlic (very common in Indian cooking) is fried along with some black mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to pop, and the onion begins to brown, add the tiny tomatoes. The direct contact with the hot pan will cause the tomatoes to burst, and this is what you want. After a couple of minutes, add the cubed eggplant and sliced okra. Lower the heat to medium, and stir frequently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. De-glaze the pan with the chicken or vegetable stock, add the garam masala and chick peas, then season with ground pepper and sea salt. Garnish with chopped cilantro. That’s all there is to this dish 😮 Of course, I keep garam masala in my well-stocked pantry! It elevates the level of even a simple vegetarian dish like this one.
This quick and healthy dish makes a tasty vegetarian meal when served with rice. I have paired it with my Seared Tuna with Dragon Fruit Salsa (the spices provide a lovely counterpoint to the tropical flavors of the salsa) and zesty lemon fried calamari rings (future post?)… Last night, I served it with lamb patties topped with yogurt. It would complement a grilled chicken breast marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic as well. It comes together in less than 30 minutes, so what’s stopping you? Give it a try… you won’t be disappointed!
Curried Okra and Eggplant
- 1 small onion cut in small chunks
- 2 tsp . fresh ginger minced
- 1 tsp . garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil*
- 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
- 8 ounces tiny tomatoes grape, pear, Little Cherub
- 2 cups okra about 1/2 pound, 1" slices
- 2 cups eggplant about 1/2 pound, 3/4" cubes
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 can chick peas garbanzos, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon garam masala*
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 cup cilantro to garnish, chopped
- * See Notes
- Pulse the onion, ginger, and garlic together in the bowl of a small food processor or blender. Heat coconut oil in a wok or saute pan, almost to the smoking point. Add the onion puree and black mustard seeds to the pan. Stir-fry until seeds begin to pop and onion mixture gives up its liquid and begins to brown. It will be a little pasty.
- Add tomatoes. Cook until they begin to burst, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.
- Add okra and eggplant. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- De-glaze the pan with broth, adding enough to keep the vegetables quite moist but not soupy. Add chick peas and garam masala. Stir well to combine.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro just before serving.
Coconut oil is my preference in this dish as it handles the hot pan fairly well, and the fragrance and flavor it adds are nice. You have to watch the smoke point (the point at which the oil breaks down). You can substitute canola or vegetable oil.
Garam masala can be found commercially in most markets in the spice section, and in the ethnic foods section of many markets. If you can't find it, you can make your own and store it in a jar as most of the ingredients are readily available.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 214 calories; 8 g protein; 32 g carbohydrates; 9 g fat.