curry

flavour punch

Eggplant & Yellow Tomato Curry

So much of what has arrived on our plates of late has been homegrown in friends’ gardens. I know I tend to bang on about this, but it’s such an incredibly precious thing to me. If you gave me your new puppy that you just picked up, it would be on a par with how I feel about being handed brown paper bags full of hand nurtured cucumbers and tomatoes. We’re talking serious appreciation. This week eggplants arrived across the trestle at the Farmer’s Market – from the side that we are supposed to give to, there’s been a lot of receiving going on this Summer. We all get to play shops and everyone’s happy. These eggplants were the lovely long type, perfect to cut through into chunks and know they would still melt down beautifully when cooked. Add the yellow tomatoes that were on the stall behind us at this week’s market and it had to be curry.

This is such a simple recipe, but man, it packs a flavour punch. As long as the produce is great to begin with. Broken record cliches of recipe writing I know, but it makes every difference. This curry had both Damien and I sitting in silence for a minute before we started eating, nothing planned or ritualistic, we were just stopped by the gratitude of beautiful people sharing incredible food.

I’m on a plane at the moment heading to Singapore to meet my brother for an awards dinner our restaurant has been nominated for. That’s a very cool thing. And I can’t wait to hang out with my big brother for a while. The reason I mention this though is because often when we have something delicious that we’ve cooked at home and it’s had that magical something about it, I’ll say “oh, I should do this at Eat Me”. The thing is without these eggplants and these tomatoes and this purple basil, it wouldn’t be a pinch on what landed on our table this week. That’s not to say we don’t get amazing produce in Thailand, we do. But there is something above and beyond about homegrown veggies. I guess that’s why so many restaurants are creating their own produce gardens. I guess that’s why I bang on about it so much. Right, might be time to turn the rooftop at Eat Me into a garden instead of a bar. Garden bar? Serving green smoothies instead of cocktails? And just picked eggplant and yellow tomato curry. Could be a thing.

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Eggplant & Yellow Tomato Curry

serves 4

 

4-5 small organic eggplant, cut into 2 cm rounds

2 tbsp organic coconut oil

1 tsp organic turmeric, freshly grated

4 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

6 black peppercorns

2.5cm piece organic ginger, freshly grated

1/2 tsp paprika

handful of organic purple basil leaves, or fresh coriander

3 organic yellow tomatoes, and some baby toms too, roughly chopped

1 tsp Himalayan salt

juice of 1 organic lemon

 

Dry roast the cumin, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns in a pan until they start dancing. Remove and grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Heat the coconut oil in a medium size saucepan and add the eggplant, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric and spices. Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, until tender. This is somewhere round 15 minutes. You might need to add a bit of water to stop it sticking. When everything is cooked, remove from heat, season to taste and add the lemon juice and fresh purple basil. I added a few extra fresh tiny toms too

We ate ours with cucumber coconut raita and blackbean chapati while the sun went down. It was declared a good day.

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peace, love & mung bean dhal

Baby Carrots & Mung Dhal with Coriander, Turmeric & Marigolds

There’s always something more to ponder and run through the ‘kindness test’ when it comes to food. I love that. The never ending joining of dots that helps you make your way to your own cooking style. I’m always up for an extra helping of information to add to whatever I’m eating and the latest little nugget has come in the form of ‘intent’, as in, cooking with it. We’ve all seen ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ – we know how our moods can effect what we’re cooking, but whether that’s because a ‘good’ mood has us at our most alert and we follow a series of steps with more discernment, and a ‘bad’ mood has us rushing through the process just to get it done, or it’s something entirely more ethereal than that, something we can’t really include on an ingredient list – I’m not sure. My inner hippy is shouting, “it’s LOVE!” Could be a name for it. Anyway I figured it’d be interesting to play with the idea further. When I remembered.

 

That’s part of this whole thing I think, remembering to remember to check what frame of mind you’re in, before the spoon hits the bottom of the pan, or your knife starts chopping veggies. I can imagine not everyone wants to be ‘present’ when they’re cooking because I guess not everyone loves doing it, but I found it was way easier to take note of my headspace if I started the process while I was wandering through the garden deciding what to pick. It was kind of started for me by the sheer gratitude I feel for just being able to have a garden. Growing your own food and enjoying cooking – another couple of dots joined?

 

Zen masters aside, not all of us are going to add grace to every dish we put on the table, but after reading about the concept and including this in our kitchen over the past 6 months or so, I think my inner hippy may be onto something. Maybe that amazing way-down-deep kind of nourishment isn’t just about what we can see going into the pot?

 

Alrighty then, the recipe…

 

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Baby Carrots & Mung Dhal with Coriander, Turmeric & Marigolds

 

10-12 organic baby carrots with tops

1 cup organic mung bean dhal

2 fresh organic bay leaves

3 organic cloves

2 cm piece organic fresh ginger

1 piece organic fresh turmeric root

1 big handful organic coriander leaves

1/4 cup organic hempseeds

1/4 cup organic lemon olive oil, ‘agrumato’

3-4 organic marigold flowers

sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

Cook the mung dhal in enough water to cover it completely. Add a slice of fresh ginger, the cloves and bay leaves while it simmers. It won’t take anywhere near as long as a lot of other pulses, so keep an eye on it to avoid it turning to mush. About 10 minutes should do it, or until it is just tender but still holding its shape.

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Remove from heat and then drain and remove the bay leaves, ginger and cloves. Salt to taste.

 

Cut the leafy tops off of the carrots and keep to put into the pesto. Cut the carrots in halves along their length and wash.

Heat a griddle pan and grill the carrots until tender but with a crisp centre. Salt to taste and drizzle with lemon olive oil.

 

To make the pesto, add the coriander leaves, carrot tops, fresh turmeric, fresh ginger and a good glug of lemon olive oil to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Salt to taste.

 

To assemble, spoon the mung dhal onto a plate, topped with the carrots and dobs of pesto, and sprinkle the plucked marigold petals and hempseeds over everything. Drizzle with extra lemon olive oil and season to taste.

NB. This pesto is good on almost everything from brown rice to tofu burgers, pasta and quinoa so don’t be afraid to make a big jar to keep in the fridge. The goodness of raw turmeric, ginger and coriander in every meal!