One of my favorite Indian restaurants is Hampton Chutney Co., Upper West Side location. Their dosas are excellent, especially with the vegetarian masala filling and mango chutney. As you can imagine, I was delighted when the owners Gary and Isabel MacGurn decided to share a recipe that they make at home with Creative Delites. The recipe is for Punjabi Shrimp– a spicy, richly flavored dish, inspired by the tomato based sauces of northern India. In trying out the recipe I took Gary’s suggestion for making a vegetarian version, substituting eggplant (or you could use tofu) for the shrimp. Dosas and uttapas are the restaurant’s specialties, but if you would like to make Indian food at home and try out some of the classic spices, like turmeric and cumin, Punjabi is a great introduction.
Punjabi Eggplant Recipe
Makes: 4 servings
Courtesy of Gary & Isabel MacGurn, Hampton Chutney Co.
1 large eggplant
Salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons veggie oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 fresh curry leaves
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro
1. Season the eggplant with salt. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the eggplant to a plate.
2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to moderate.
3. Add the turmeric, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Stir in the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds longer.
5. Add the onion, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes; if the mixture seems dry; add up to ¼ cup of water to prevent sticking.
6. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and cook until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
7. Return the eggplant to the skillet and cook, stirring, until they are opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
8. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.