Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eggplant kootu, or deliverance from meat

Suffice it to say that, by lunch today, I was considerably less thrilled about eating chicken than I was on Friday night when Steve brought home a $1.99 rotisserie chicken from the Pig.  That was one dead bird that would not go away.  Plus I was too zonked to cook over the weekend, which meant that yesterday and today I had to grab whatever leftovers were in the fridge (chicken, chicken and more chicken) and head off to work.  I vowed that, if I could help it, tonight's dinner would be totally vegan - and even though Steve brought home another $1.99 chicken (still in the fridge uncarved), it was. 

I still had an eggplant left over from my last Pinckney's stash of the summer but didn't feel like making anything as labor intensive as moussaka or eggplant parm, so I made this instead.  BTW, I LOVE my Indian cookbook - there's a side dish recipe for every veggie I've ever bought and then some, which saves me having to think too much about what to make when I'm already hungry.

The book (reference below) defines "kootu" as "a thick, creamy textured and mildly flavored vegetable dish prepared with dal, ginger and cumin."*  This recipe didn't mention ginger, which I'm not sure I would have liked with eggplant anyway.  If any of the ingredients below sound unfamiliar, well...they're all available at your friendly neighborhood Indian grocery store.

1/2 cup toor dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp canola oil
4 to 6 curry leaves
3 cayenne peppers, chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup chopped onion
1 eggplant (3-4 cups), cubed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin powder

Boil 2 cups water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add toor dal and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, about 30 minutes or until dal has a creamy consistency, adding water as needed.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add curry leaves, cayennes, mustard seeds, ural dal and cumin seeds.  Fry until mustard seeds pop and urad dal turns golden brown.  Add onion and eggplant, stir well to coat the veggies and cook until eggplant has softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir the cooked toor dal plus 1 cup of warm water into the eggplant mixture.  Add salt and cumin powder and stir well.  Cook, covered, over medium heat until veggies are tender and most liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.  Serve over jasmine rice.

Thankfully, Steve had eaten very light during the day, so I didn't feel like I was cramming food down his throat just a couple of hours after his 3:30 "lunch."  And now I have leftovers that I'll be looking forward to around 11:00 tomorrow morning!

*Vaivaran, A. and Marquardt, P.  Healthy South Indian Cooking.  New York: Hippocrene, 2001, p. 38.  (Recipe p. 234)


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