The cookbook where this recipe is printed
This past weekend I received an Easter gift from a family friend that contained everything I could ever need to start me on the path to successful Indian cooking: new wooden spoons, 5-blade herb scissors (who knew these were even a thing?), spices, and an awesome cookbook. I was super excited, not only because it was a complete surprise but because I had the two things I needed most: Indian spices, which I wouldn’t know where to find outside of India, and a cookbook for beginners, to demystify the magical world of Indian cuisine. (Thanks Melinda!) With all of my new supplies, I knew that Indian would have to be on the menu for this week’s Friday night dinner with the ladies.
The process wasn’t quite as easy as I’d wanted it to be, but every meal comes with its own challenges. Mine began with trying to find a recipe that would be Kosher for Passover, so that my roommate could take part in the meal, even if her meal would be sadly devoid of naan. After a search through the cookbook, we settled on Eggplant Curry. Then began the real education process. Before even beginning the meal I leaded a lot of new things. What is curry? Previously I couldn’t have given a real explanation, but I now know that to Indians, curry is a sauce that’s meant to be served with a grain, usually rice. Rice is actually considered the main part of the meal, and curry is the sauce that is used to give it more flavor and excitement. What I gathered: curry is basically whatever you want it to be. I learned even more at the grocery store. First of all, conventional eggplants and organic eggplants were the same price. This not only made the choice very clear, but seemed strange to me, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen an organic product cost less or the same as its otherwise identical conventional counterpart. Secondly, Whole Foods did not carry red chile peppers as called for in my recipe. That I completely expected them to was was a reminder of the illusion that grocery stores create for us; though for the most part we have no idea where our food comes from, we expect to be able to access pretty much anything we would find in a recipe, unless it’s a particularly foreign ingredient. Finally, choosing to embark on the creation of an Indian meal forced me to return to a discussion we had in class about seeds and property rights. This recipe, like many Indian recipes, calls for mustard seeds. I know that the mustard seeds I would be using came from an Asian market. Beyond this endpoint of consumer-seller interaction, I have no idea where they originated. This brought to light (once again) the difficulties that are presented as we try to connect ourselves to the food we are eating. The chain is so long that the point of origin and most of the middlemen seem impossible or extremely difficult to identify.
I won’t post this exact recipe here, as I imagine some recipe writer put a lot of time and effort into developing that recipe for a published cookbook, but I will say that the cookbook is great! It has pictures for beginners like me–kind of an intro to Indian food for dummies.
Here’s another eggplant curry recipe from The Bojon Gourmet that is slightly different but looks equally delicious, and that I hope to try in the future: http://www.bojongourmet.com/2014/09/curried-roasted-eggplant-with-smoked.html