Monday, September 6, 2010
Eggplants of Friendship
On Sunday my friend Lisa brought me a small curry plant (the leaves are added to curries--it's not curry powder growing on a tree!), a mango from her parents tree, her homemade mango chutney and some long slender Asian eggplants that I like as they have smooth (not bitter) skin and sweet flesh that is succulent when cooked and absorbs the flavors of what it is cooked with. They came with the curry plant from Asia Grocery on SW 56th Street in Miami which is really an Indian market where one can get jars of lime, mango and carrot pickles in mustard oil and spices, whole and ground spices, lentils, basmati rice, and Southeast Asian-Indian produce like the slim eggplants, bitter melons and long beans. Lisa had an appointment in that part of Miami and was kind enough to get what items I asked her to get for me. So last night with the leftover curry base from the chef friend, half a can of coconut milk and the eggplants I made eggplant curry. I just heated some olive oil, tossed in mustard seeds and cumin seeds and fresh curry leaves. When they were sizzling I added the chef friends curry base (who he adapted from a North Indain chef he met in Egypt) and chopped up eggplant, turmeric, cayenne, fresh cilantro and salt. I stir-fried the eggplant in a a wok from my friend Eleanor until it started to soften and poured in the coconut milk with a splash of vinegar and cooked it down until the sauce was thick and clinging to the eggplant and then threw in the remaining baby spinach I had in my fridge. I ate it with rice and Lisa's savory mango chutney. Today, Labor Day, Lisa invited me for dinner. By coincidence--or maybe because she had been shopping in an Indian grocery--or because we were on the same wave length--she had cooked Indian. I brought over my eggplant curry and we feasted together on this last night of summer as lightning splintered in the sky and rain streaked her windows. She had made chard with coconut and tamarind, basmati rice scented with cumin and cloves steamed with peas, corn and carrot shreds, potato cubes cooked with whole spices and red lentil dal. It's the end of summer but I'm sure many more Indian meals remain with my circle of friends to extend the season--isn't it called Indian summer?.