Eggplant and Tomato Curry

by Anne Maxfield on November 11, 2019

I had a pile of Japanese eggplants from our CSA that were supposed to go into a Thai duck curry, but the duck leftovers disappeared. This looked like a good vegetarian/vegan way to use up those lovely eggplants. Serves 6:

  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2” piece of ginger
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds,
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 12 small (Japanese) eggplants about 1 ½ pounds (see my verdict below for using regular eggplants)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ pound mixed color cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 375º. Peel the onion, garlic and ginger, place in a food processor with the cilantro stalks and jalapeno and process to a fine paste. Put the spices and curry leaves into a medium ovenproof pan on a low heat with 2 tablespoons of oil and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the ginger paste and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly. Stir in the peanut butter, mango chutney and tamarind paste, season with salt and pepper. Put aside in a medium bowl.

Leaving them intact at the stalk, cut the eggplants into quarters lengthways. Rub and stuff them generously with all the paste, then arrange them in the pan.

Place the pan on medium heat and fry for 5 minutes, turning the eggplants halfway. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, season well with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil.

Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until thickened and reduced, removing the foil halfway. Season to taste, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

My verdict: Hot, very hot! I used one small jalapeno and it was killer hot. A little mango chutney on the side and some basmati rice helped, but it was still pretty hot. For future, I’d go easy on the jalapeno and add more in if needed. Once the heat was sort of tamed, these were really good. I thought the cherry tomatoes looked a little lame, so got some Campari tomatoes, quartered them and used them instead.

Although my spice list goes to 120 items on an Excel spreadsheet, surprisingly fenugreek seeds were not on it, so they didn’t go in the curry. Not sure how that affects the final product, but now I’ve got some.

If you’re using regular eggplants, cut them into 1/2” rounds and sandwich the paste between them.



Tasting Le Bon Magot’s Condiments

by Anne Maxfield on January 18, 2016

Accidental Locavore Le Bon Magot ChutneysThe Accidental Locavore met Naomi at the spice blending class at La Bôite. She’s the brains behind Le Bon Magot, a new line of condiments.

As the website says: “Le Bon Magot – ‘the hidden treasure’ – celebrates a family’s lifelong culinary adventure across Africa, Middle East and South Asia.”

Currently there are three different products and I was eager to try them all.

So eager, that when I picked them up from Naomi, I grabbed a plastic spoon from a coffee shop and sampled them all while I was waiting for my train!

There’s a white pumpkin and almond murabba (a sweet preserve). If you like pumpkin and can’t wait for fall and all the pumpkin-spiced whatever, this is going to be your favorite. It’s light and not too sweet, with cardamom, vanilla and the crunch of almonds. Try it with pork, or top some yogurt with it for breakfast with a kick.

Accidental Locavore Le Bon Magot LineNext up was the brinjal caponata. A riff on traditional caponata, this time the eggplant teams up with cumin, curry leaves and capers. My first thought was to pair it with lamb chops, so I did. Of course lamb and eggplant are always a good match, so this was kind of a no-brainer (and yes, it was delicious).

If you wanted to go in another direction, it would be great slathered on some toasted bread in a version of a bruschetta.

Last but not least was the tomato and white sultana chutney. The minute I tasted this in Grand Central, I ran over to Murray’s Cheese for some Cabot Clothbound Cheddar!

As it turned out, the guy waiting on me was the same one from a few minutes before. He tried the chutney and loved it so much that I gave him the label from the bag Naomi had given me and told him Murray’s should start carrying it.

It was great with the cheddar! Since I had the lamb chops going, I also tasted them with the chutney.

It was even better than with the caponata!

In the spirit of experimentation, we also put some cream cheese on a baguette and topped it with the chutney and liked that too. It would make a simple and delicious appetizer the next time we have dinner guests.

Naomi says to use it in place of ketchup, so there’s a burger waiting in my future.

Accidental Locavore Le Magot RaisinAs a special treat, I met with Naomi recently and she gave me a sneak preview of what she’s cooking up next.

There’s a delicious savory granola and a raisin and rose petal compote. The compote would be wonderful with a good chèvre on a nice olive crisp, like the ones from David Lebovitz’s book. Hmm, I think there’s some in my freezer…

Also in work is the sultana’s lemon-saffron preserve with caraway and crystallized honey and coming in the summer, a blackberry compote to take advantage of the summer’s bounty – I can’t wait! If you’d like to try them, the first three are available on the website. Enjoy!



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How to Pick a Great Tomato

by Anne Maxfield on October 28, 2010

Accidental Locavore Tomato Close UpHow to Pick a Great Tomato:

  • Tomatoes should give just a little when you pick them up.
  • Not too firm but definitely not mushy.
  • No black spots, or torn skin (unless you’re going to eat them immediately). If there are blemishes or bumps, especially at the top, that’s usually fine, just cosmetic.
  • Smell them, do they smell like a tomato?

If they’re not really ripe you can just keep them out on the counter stem side down, and/or wrap them in a piece of newspaper.

NEVER refrigerate them, it kills the flavor.

As for colors, try one of each, see what you like, and go for those the next time. Some of my favorites are German Stripe (yellow w/red stripes large and very fragile skins, very sweet and probably out of season now), Purple Cherokee (dark purple almost brown, great flavor) and Green Zebra (smaller green w/green stripes, tart taste a little citrus). If you’re at a greenmarket or farmstand, tell the farmer what tastes you like, and see what they recommend. They’re usually happy to make suggestions.



Recipe: Great Guacamole

by Anne Maxfield on March 29, 2010

Accidental Locavore Great GuacamoleAs long as the Accidental Locavore has been on sort of a Mexican kick, here’s how I make guacamole. Since it’s so simple, it’s always surprised me that whenever I make guacamole everyone goes crazy for it. The secret is lots of cilantro. Even if you’re not a big cilantro fan, just close your eyes, and go for it. The other tip is to save 2-3 of the avocado pits, clean them and put them in the middle of the guacamole to keep it from discoloring.

  • 4-5 really ripe Haas avocados (the big green Florida ones, just have no flavor), peeled and cut into 1/2 dice
  • 1 small white onion chopped fine
  • 1 good sized ripe tomato, diced
  • 1-2 serrano chiles, or jalapenos, depending on your heat threshold, seeded and chopped very fine
  • Most of a bunch of cilantro chopped fine
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

Mix the avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, chiles, lime, and salt, slightly mashing the avocado as you mix. Taste and add additional chiles, lime and cilantro according to your taste. Serve and enjoy. Put the pits in the middle of the serving bowl (see photo) to prevent browning.