Eggplant and Green Bean Curry (without the beans)

We had friends over for a late afternoon tea and it was so nice seeing them that we pressed them to stay for dinner. Joel had recently picked the last of the french eggplants – those lovely white ones without the bitterness – that he grew this year before they could be destroyed by frost. We will definitely grow them again next summer as they were absolutely prolific, don’t take up much room and don’t attract garden pests. I made an eggplant curry with them, using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe as a base.

Note that ‘as a base’ is code here for ‘only have half the ingredients in the pantry’. I include the full recipe below, although I found that even with half the ingredients missing (including the green beans) it makes a wonderful hearty curry served with basmati rice.

Eggplants 1

5 large eggplants
Approx. 6 tbsp oil (like canola or sunflower)
300ml homemade roasted tomato passata or bought passata (or tin of tomatoes also would be fine)
400ml tin coconut milk
300g french beans
Good handful of coriander, chopped
75g cashews or almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
Freshly ground salt and pepper
For the curry paste
2 medium onions
4 garlic cloves
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, finely sliced
2 medium green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
Serves 6 easily

Put all the curry paste ingredients in a little blender with 2 tbsp of water and whiz to a coarse paste.

Chop each eggplant into roughly 12 similar-sized pieces. Heat 2-3 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick frying pan (I use non-stick for this because then you don’t need to use as much oil – eggplants do love to soak up oil). Saute the eggplant, in batches, until lightly browned, adding oil as needed.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, deep saucepan and add the curry paste. Fry over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add the eggplant to the pan and stir for a minute until coated with the spice mixture.

Add the passata and coconut milk. If the sauce is very thick, add some water to thin out. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is nearly cooked. Add the french beans and simmer until they are tender, about 5 minutes.

Season well with salt and pepper. To serve, scatter chopped coriander and nuts over the curry.

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