Friday, June 5, 2009

Baby Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Milk for Tyler Florence Fridays

Torn between two of Tyler's baby eggplant recipes, I made the Stuffed Baby Eggplant last week and decided to go back to the Thai market and pick up some more eggplant to make Baby Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Milk for this week's pick. I love a good curry and this one sounded delicious with the cashews and coconut milk. It comes from Eat This Book or can also be found at the Food Network, (Food 911--Vegetarian Curries Episode here). I did need to lighten it up a bit, changing the ghee to olive oil, and reducing the amount considerably, as well as using "lite" coconut milk.

Tyler says: "The cooking styles of India vary from one region to another at least as much as the food of the Mediterranean. France is different from the flavors of Alsace. This dish represents the sunny flavors of southern India, where coconut is often used in curries. in this recipe, you can taste the extent to which southern Indian cuisine pulls from the same ingredient shelf as Thai food."

Baby Eggplant with Curry and Coconut Milk
Tyler Florence
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup ghee, (recipe follows) or canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder, homemade or store-bought
1 cup unsalted raw or toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
8 baby eggplants
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried red chile
kosher salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Heat 1/4 cup of the ghee in a large pot over medium flame, add the onions and sprinkle with the curry powder. Cook and stir for a few minutes until the onions are soft. Add the cashews, shredded coconut, coconut milk, and vegetable broth. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. 

In the meantime, cut the eggplant into chunks. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of ghee in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When you see a slight smoke, add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until it gets charred and sticky, about 3 minutes.

When the coconut sauce is cooked, puree with a hand-held blender, until it’s pretty smooth. Pour the sauce over the eggplant and toss in the cinnamon stick and chile. Season with salt, to taste, and simmer for 15 minutes or until thick. Give a squeeze of lemon to brighten the flavor, garnish with mint leaves, and serve with steamed basmati rice and/or flatbread.

1 pound unsalted butter

Put the butter in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat, swirl the pot around to ensure that it melts slowly and does not sizzle or brown. Increase the heat and bring the butter to a boil. When the surface is covered with foam, stir gently and reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Gently simmer, uncovered, and undisturbed for 45 minutes, until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan have turned golden brown and the butter on top is transparent. Strain the ghee through a sieve lined with several layers of cheesecloth. The ghee should be perfectly clear and smell nutty; pour into a glass jar and seal tightly. Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Notes/Results: Yum! Really good flavor and a nice creamy curry sauce. One note, even with a medium curry powder and popping a couple of extra dried red peppers in it, there is not a lot of spice to this one, so if you want more, use a hotter curry or add some cayenne or more dried peppers. I actually like my creamier, coconut curries to be on the mild to medium side so it worked well for me. (I just know Natashya will want to kick it up a notch!) I cut the oil that I used in place of the ghee down to about 3 tablespoons total for cooking the onions and cooking the eggplant and it worked just fine. The "lite" coconut milk thickened up well too, so no need for the full-fat version. 

I think I could have gotten the curry a bit smoother but I had a bit of a mishap and grabbed the metal handle of a pan that was not on the heat, but that happened to be VERY hot anyway, based on how it was positioned near/over one of the burners. I burnt the bejesus out of my left thumb and index finger and when it came time to use the immersion blender to puree everything, I was using it one-handed with my other hand in a cup of ice water. I kept looking at it going, "is it smooth enough yet? Is it smooth enough now? Finally I just said "---- it!, it's smooth enough for me!" and called it done so I could let it simmer while I nursed my throbbing thumb. I did eventually get to enjoy it, served with brown basmati rice and whole grain pita. A big blister on my thumb and a smaller one on the index finger, I am typing this mostly one-handed but that is semi-normal around here. Max frequently decides that when I am on the computer, I am not worshiping him enough and presents his belly for me to rub so I have gotten kind of used to picking out letters quickly that way. Happily the recipe turned out well and I can at least say that I "suffered for my craft" tonight!

You can find out what recipes the other Tyler Florence Friday members selected for this week and what they thought of them at the TFF website, here.


  1. There's nothing I love more than a good curry! I'm so sorry about your hand, that is totally something I have done before. It's rare I get through any cooking experience without at least a minor bruise.

  2. Ouch! I hope your hand is better soon! this curry sounds delicious :)

  3. Oooooh, feeling your pain with the burn - I still have a mark on my arm from a hot sheet pan!

    I wish I could get baby eggplants here - everything you've made looks so good.

  4. Ouch :( I have many "kitchen tattoos" as reminders of my ouch-es. Hope this yummy meal made you forget all about it...

  5. Oh, your poor paw!
    Hope you mend soon.
    The curry looks great, I love eggplant, especially the babies.
    You are right, bring on the hot peppers!

  6. I hope your hand is on the mend! Your curry looks terrific and TF has very few bad recipes. I hope you have a better day today.

  7. That is my kind of meal! YUM!!! I am going to have to try substituting the lite milk and see if it turns out for me as well.

  8. this sounds great too- what a wonderful & huge round up we have this week! Happy TFF!

  9. I hope your hand is feeling better! This coconut curry sounds just delicious especially with those cute baby eggplants!

  10. Blending of aromatic spices curry and coconut what a grand idea...

    Thanks for sharing your recipe:)
    I'm sorry about your hand I hope you feel better:)

    And you can visit me if I can viist you:)


  11. You are going to be proud of me. Although I'm not a fan of curry, I did buy a curry plant for my herb garden! I'm thinking if I grow my own maybe it will taste better to me!

    Love the stuffed baby eggplants!

  12. i love curry too. i'm biased towards green curries, but this sounds amazing. sorry about your thumb!!

  13. Yikes on the hand! What we do to feed people, the injuries we endure.
    This looks good, makes me wish I liked eggplant.


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