Greatest Ever Indian: Easy and Delicious Step-by-step Recipes is nice cookbook to have around because of the plethora of pictures which include both cooking steps and finished dishes. Sometimes I have no idea what to cook, but if the picture of the finished dish makes me hungry, then I know that’s what I’m going to choose. Although this is an omnivore’s cookbook, many of the recipes are vegetarian so I’ve found it to be a handy go-to cookbook.
This cookbook does a decent job with descriptions and pictures of concepts that may be unknown in American cooking. It simplifies the recipes without losing any of the flavors and it also gives a pretty good introduction to the concepts of Indian cooking (albeit a bit Westernized.)
I couldn’t decide which recipe to try, so I went ahead and chose three out of this cookbook. They will be featured in upcoming posts. But first, I’ll start with the Eggplant Curry.
I don’t know about you, but I have a little difficulty finding dried tamarind. (I looked…I swear!) So, I ended up using some tamarind sauce purchased from an Indian store. I used about 2 Tablespoons of it because really like it’s taste – a sort of vinegary, salty and bitter flavor. Using the sauce also eliminated the first few steps of soaking the tamarind.) To cut down on some of the fat, I used a low fat coconut milk.
Because this dish cooks through simmering, it’s very easy to make. The fresh curry leaves add a brightness to the dish. Curry powder can also be substituted. Saute the spices, throw in the sliced eggplant and coconut milk and you’re good to go. (Oh, and the leftovers are super good!)
1 1/4 oz/40 g dried tamarind, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup boiling water
2 large eggplants, sliced
2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
3 onions, slices
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
4 curry leaves
1 fresh green chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1 Tablespoon coriander
2 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
generous 2 cups canned coconut milk
3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish (Note: I used chopped fresh parsley.)
(Note: If using tamarind sauce, skip these first steps and head straight to prepping the eggplant.)
Place the dried tamarind in a bowl. the add the boiling water and stir. let soak for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. Cook’s tip: Most contemporary varieties of eggplant no longer need salting to remove the bitter juices. However, doing so stops the vegetable from becoming too soggy.)
(Skip this step if using tamarind sauce.) Strain the tamarind into a bowl, pressing down on the pulp with the back of a wooden spoon.
Discard the contents of the strainer. Rinse the eggplant slices under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the ghee in a large pan. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until golden. Stir in the garlic paste and ginger paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
Add the curry leaves, green and red chilies, ground coriander, cumin and mustard seeds, and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the spices give off their aroma.
Add the tamarind liquid and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Add the eggplant slices, then cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender.
Uncover the pan and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the chopped cilantro and sprinkle the extra chopped herb on top, then serve immediately.