Almost three years ago, I posted a recipe for homemade Chana Masala from Meera Sodha’s colorful book, Made In India. It’s delicious and if you love chana masala as much as I do, please give it a try, perhaps as a complement to the curry I am posting today. In its original form, Cherry Tomato and Eggplant Curry is also from Sodha’s book. I branched out when making it this week to serve to a friend by swapping out the eggplant with butternut squash and a handful of baby spinach. We both loved it although unfortunately, pictures were not snapped of this variation!
This curry is quite simple to pull together and is dairy free, making it very light. Nonetheless, the flavors are very bright thanks to a combination of coriander, cumin and turmeric. The recipe makes four servings and leftovers reheat well. If anything, the curry is even better after sitting for a day in the fridge.
For this dish, it’s best to use a wide bottom saute pan as the instructions suggest so there is a lot of surface area for the vegetables to interact with all the seasonings. It’s also important to use the freshest possible spices for maximum flavor.
Here is a picture of most of the ingredients, mostly so you can get a sense of the size of my onions and eggplant. Note you want to smash and peel the garlic, leaving it as whole as possible so that it doesn’t burn and become bitter during the cooking process…
The onions are sauteed over medium high heat to encourage a little browning. The remaining aromatics are added and sauteed for just a few minutes, after which the heat is turned down, the tomatoes are added and the pan is covered for five minutes. Sodha suggested ten minutes, but that is too long as you want the tomatoes to soften but not completely fall apart.
The spices are added with the tomato paste and sugar and stirred to create a paste like consistency in the pan. Warm water thins everything out and the eggplant (or butternut squash) is added and cooked until tender.
Serve with some cilantro, yogurt and naan bread. Over brown rice is nice as well. Add the Chana Masala for some protein if you want!
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Recipe adapted every so slightly from Made in India by Meera Sodha.
- 3 Tablespoons canola or peanut oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
- 30 cherry tomatoes (a scant pint), halved
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 2 large eggplants, quartered, then cut into 1/8 inch pieces or 3 cups 1/2-3/4 inch dice peeled butternut squash (see note)
- For serving, freshly chopped cilantro, yogurt and naan bread. Brown rice can also serve as a bed for the curry if you desire.
- Over medium heat, add oil to a wide bottomed frying pan with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until soft and translucent and turning golden. Add the jalapeno, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for another 2-3 minutes. Turn down the heat to low and add the cherry tomatoes. Put the lid on the pan and allow the tomatoes to soften, about 5 minutes. You don't want them to break down too much at this juncture.
- Stir in the salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, tomato paste and sugar. When the mixture is looking like a paste, add the water followed by the eggplant or squash. Carefully coat the vegetables in the tomato mixture and put the lid back on the pan.
- Cook for about 15 minutes on low heat until the vegetables are tender.
- Check for spices and salt and adjust as needed.
- Serve with the cilantro, yogurt and naan bread and/or over brown rice if desired.
Tips from The Kitchen Scout
The eggplant I used to make the recipe for the blog was about 8 inches in length. The butternut squash is a really delicious alternative and I amped it up further by adding in a few handfuls of baby spinach at the end of cooking. Enjoy!
A winner ! Made this last night tasty and so easy !personal preferences I would cook the tomatoes even less time 2-3 mins before adding the squash as they did melt by the end and I like it when they hold their shape as Val indicated . Also maybe try less salt 1/2-1 tsp and the you can always add more later . Thx!!