There is something special about Indian cuisine. It is bursting with flavorful ingredients, but not a single one seems to take center stage. It is a masterful blending of spices to create a new complex flavor profile absent in other cuisines. Indian recipes are filled with a plethora of spices, yet are mellow and inviting.
I first fell for the flavors of Indian cuisine when my cousin returned from a six month long journey to its native land. Upon his return my entire family rented a remote cabin in rural Montana in the middle of winter. Tucked away inside the cabin we played cards for hours on end, gazed at the winter wonderland outside, and ate generous amounts of Indian cuisine. My cousin, having been in the country for an extended period of time had learned traditional Indian cooking techniques. He educated us in what a traditional Indian curry was. It is a far cry from the versions in many American restaurants.
It was here, tucked away in a remote cabin, that my love for Indian cuisine found its roots. Its flavors pair so well with soups, vegetable sides, and grain dishes. It offers endless possibility.
Today I have prepared a stuffed eggplant dish infused with Indian flavors. There are many, many versions of this dish with different blends of spices and ingredients. The one I prepared happens to be my favorite, but experiment and make it your own if you desire. Traditionally, this dish is made with a variety of eggplant that is between 2 and 4 inches in length, much smaller than the Chinese variety that we find in most supermarkets. To make this recipe more accessible, as these small eggplants are difficult to find, I chose the smallest Chinese eggplants I could find in the store. My eggplants were about 6 inches in length. If you cannot find eggplants this small feel free to use a larger one. They might require more cooking time so adjust accordingly.
- For the stuffing:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon dried currants
- ½ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon grape seed oil (or avocado, extra virgin olive oil, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- For Assembly:
- 4 baby Chinese eggplants
- 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
- In a small bowl combine all of the stuffing ingredients. Mix and set aside.
- Cut a slit in each eggplant lengthwise. Make each slit deep in order to fill with stuffing, but take care not to pierce the back of the eggplant. Fill each eggplant with ¼ of the stuffing mixture.
- In a large nonstick skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Once the pan has preheated, add in the eggplant. Cook for ten minutes and then flip the eggplants one quarter turn. Repeat, cooking each of the four sides for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.