I recently came home after a night out with a pint glass and an aubergine that were not mine. I live in Glasgow, the only city where stealing things whilst inebriated is considered a pastime, not a misdemeanor.
My dear friend G and I heard about an establishment in the West End that serves five different types of veggie burger. G is a vegetarian so these things interest her. So on a night out, we went to have a look, but they were already closing since it was around midnight. However, they did still have their decorative crates of vegetables outside. Why they have decorative crates of veg outside is a mystery to me, because they really only serve burgers, but it does look pretty. Slightly intoxicated and thinking that this kind of misbehaviour is hilarious, we decided to let out our bad sides and we were able to carry off the spoils of our first criminal enterprise: one whole aubergine. The security guard from the pub across the street looked at us disapprovingly, but didn’t say anything.
G felt like a criminal and repented straight away. I told her to go back for a butternut squash. We went back and by now the crates were guarded by a very grumpy looking woman who eyed us suspiciously, and by the disapproving security guard. We were forced to desist with no further vegetables and to head home empty-handed like the cowards that we are.
But we did already have that one aubergine. So here’s an aubergine curry! For two:
a tin of chopped tomatoes
half an onion
a couple of cloves of garlic
minimal amount of single cream (for vegans: coconut cream’s excellent, too)
As for the curry spices, if you absolutely want to, you could use a premixed powder, although obviously I’m against it. For this particular curry I prefer:
about 3 cm of fresh ginger
1 cardamom pod
1,5 tsp ground coriander
1,5 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
half a dried chilli
a couple of cloves
a dash of both white and black pepper
About half an hour before you start cooking, slice up the aubergine and sprinkle salt over the slices, and don’t be stingy with the salt. You won’t end up eating all of it, it just extracts some bitter juices from the aubergine. When the pieces are all salted, put them in a sieve or a colander and put a wee plate on top of them, with something heavy on top (like a tin of tomatoes) so that the juice is pressed out. Leave them for about half an hour, then dry the pieces with a clean tea towel. (There’s people who say that you really shouldn’t do this to aubergines because all it does is take away their ‘characteristic’ flavour. That’s fine, if you don’t want to, don’t. I, however, really think that aubergines are inedible, bitter, spongy bastards if you skip all of this.)
So, you’ve got your aubergine in the colander. Finely chop the onion, garlic and ginger. Chop or crush the cardamom, the cloves and the chilli. Heat some sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok and put all of this chopped business in there, then start adding the dry spices as well. Then add the tomatoes, some boiling water, enough salt and a minimal pinch of sugar. Leave to simmer, then taste and see if you need to add more of any of the spices.
When this has turned into a good, thickish sauce, take out most of the liquid but try to leave in some garlic and onion. Stick the liquid in a food processor (or a jug and use a hand blender) and whiz it up so it becomes a homogeneous sauce. Meanwhile, fry the aubergine in the frying pan with the onion you left in there. When it’s done, throw the sauce back in. Leave to simmer for about 10 more minutes, then add the cream and mix well.
Serve with white rice.