Monday, July 15, 2013

Meatless Monday - Vegetarian Eggplant Curry

Meat consumption is one of the biggest driving forces of climate change. Sad, but true. If for every time someone told us to bring a reusable bag to the store to save on plastic, we'd skip a meal of meat instead, we'd have done a whole lot more good. For me, the comparison that drove it home was that a vegetarian Hummer driver has a smaller carbon footprint than an omnivorous Prius driver.
Learning of this comparison, I am seriously (re)considering our meat consumption. I make some darn good ribs, if I do say so myself, but we reserve those for special occasions and try to eat more vegetarian/vegan/low-meat everyday meals. TVP stands for texturized vegetable protein, and it's a highly processed form of soy. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's cheap and resembles cooked ground chicken reasonably well. I'll try to post a few recipes that have worked for my family, in case you'd like to try but are intimidated by the strange new world ingredient. This one is based on Baingan Bharta but the TVP makes it more filling, because the meal has more protein.


2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion seed
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small slice of fresh ginger, finely chopped

2 large eggplants
1 cup dry TVP
1 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Garam masala
1/8 tsp Peri Peri seasoning (very hot)
1/2 tsp salt
1 chopped tomato
1 cup chopped snap peas or green peas*
1 small can light coconut milk or a cup of yogurt, I love goat's milk yogurt here
1 tsp curry powder
salt to taste

eggplant after baking
1. Cut the eggplant in half, place cut side down on a greased cookie sheet, poke a few times with a knife tip and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until brown and wrinkled looking. Let that cool before scooping the insides out, and discarding the skin. Roughly chop the insides.

eggplant guts, ready to be chopped

2. Add cumin, garam masala, salt, half the curry and peri peri to TVP flakes. I think it is crucial to let the spices soak with the TVP to avoid blandness! Add boiling water and let stand for 20 minutes or so.
dry TVP and spices
after soaking

3. Heat the cumin and onion seeds, ginger and garlic in the oil, then add chopped onion. Stir until onion is translucent.

4. Add chopped eggplant mush and chopped tomato. Cook for a few minutes while stirring. Add coconut milk/yogurt and curry powder, plus the rehydrated TVP. Simmer for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors soak into the TVP.
5. Add green peas or snap peas*, and wait til they turn bright green, but make sure they don't get soft. Taste and add salt if desired. Garnish with chopped cilantro or green onions if you have it.

You may notice this recipe can be made entirely vegan, and makes a pretty satisfying meal served with rice. Of course I ruin that by serving it with a mint-cucumber raita (yogurt sauce). I love the combination of a spicy curry and soothing cool raita. Also, not all of my kids love curry, but they will eat rice with yogurt sauce and a touch of the curry on the side.... baby steps!

*Confession: I had written up the recipe and taken pictures a while back. But something happened and the pictures were corrupted. So I redid the pictures today, but I had no peas, so I used swiss chards instead, for a little green. It was OK, but I prefer peas. This explains why the pictures don't match the recipe exactly. 

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