We’re entering the inaugural curry/soup/stew season in NZ aka winter! In celebration, here’s a tasty, and superbly hearty, recipe for a potato, eggplant and chickpea curry, that I promise will warm the cockles of your heart on the coldest of eves.
This recipe is inspired on a dish a work colleague made me a while back. Back story: within my community nutrition job, I sometimes house-jump for meetings. When I’d swing by the colleague in question, she’d always have a plate of steaming homemade curry and roti waiting, just because, and I’d eat and eat until I had to be rolled back to my car - the dream. One day, many curries later, and with a mouth filled with roti, I exclaimed “ok, ok, this one takes the cake - TEACH ME”. Next time I was over she demoed the curry, and I’ve tried best to recreate it here. Thanks Sushma! <3
Unlike curries with a decent serving of a sauce/gravy, this one’s a little different - you cook potatoes and eggplant together until they’re super soft and start to break apart, and this forms a thick hearty mix that carries the glorious spice combo; as well as chickpeas and a medley of veg. The combination of eggplant and potatoes cooked in a spiced tomato-onion sauce has a name - Aloo Baingan - and is an Indian vegetarian dish, enjoyed as a main or side.
I have tweaked the classic by adding chickpeas, which are a source of plant-based protein - ideal for vegans, who reply completely on plant-based sources of protein.
This curry is a rich source of dietary fibre, which helps support gut health. Fibre is an indigestible part of carbohydrates that travels to our large bowel where it’s met by a hungry crowd of bacteria who’ll break it down, feasting on it. In exchange for the meal, they’ll do handy biological for for us, helping keep us healthy and well.
A defining feature of a curry is that it contains spices, and these carry health properties. An example is turmeric, which also gives this dish its incredible yellow colour. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, and has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong antioxidant.
This dish contains pretty simple ingredients that are easy to source, it will feed a big crowd and it tastes even better reheated the next day - all the more reason to give it a whirl! Enjoy.
Potato, Eggplant and Chickpea Curry
4 large potatoes
1 large eggplant
1 brown onion
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp finely grated ginger (around a 3cm long piece of ginger)
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1x 400g tin chickpeas
6 handfuls of baby spinach
Optional: chilli flakes, to taste
Dice potato into small chunks. Slice top and bottom off eggplant, place it flat-side down on a chopping board, and peel off the purple skin (I recommend carefully and slowly running your knife down the side). Slice eggplant in half and then slice flesh into strips - like thick cut chips. Place potatoes and eggplant in a sieve and wash under cold water.
Peel and finely dice brown onion. Peel garlic cloves and finely slice.
Head a large pan with a fitted lid on a low heat. Add oil.
When the pan has heated, add brown onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
Add cumin seeds and yellow mustard seeds. Saute for a minute.
Add potatoes, eggplant, turmeric and salt. Toss veggies to coat well with spices and salt.
Add 3/4 cup of cold water. Mix and then turn heat up to high. Once boiling, turn down to a medium-low, and cook for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked and the eggplant is breaking down.
Dice tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add to curry, along with frozen peas, spinach and 1/4 cup water. Mix through. Add lid back on and cook for 10 minutes.
Open tin of chickpeas, drain liquid and rince. Add to curry and mix well.
Taste test curry - add 1/2 tsp extra salt, or more, if desired, and chilli flakes (optional).
Garnish with a heaped tbsp of yoghurt (go coconut yoghurt to keep it vegan), fresh herbs (e.g. coriander), cashews and a sprinkle of chilli flakes if desired.
Serve wit basmati/brown rice or roti.