Does this happen to you? Do you stare into the fridge thinking you’ll make some simply fun dish—Spanish rice maybe, or shrimp curry, maybe a sweet and spicy dressing for salad even—only to discover one key ingredient is missing? Just one! Not even two or three, but the one single item that means everything. You figure, Ok fine! I’ll just run to the store get that single item (and maybe a few other things, since of course I’m making the trip). And just as it happened before and will happen for the rest of time, you walk into the market with 4 things in mind and walk out with 40. There must be some law of physics for this type of phenomenon. You may happily name it after me, if you so choose, as I’ve lived it for years now.
I’m trying to rein in my spending habits, though I’m no frenzied shopper to be sure. I don’t care about shoes, I don’t get carried away with clothes, I have a decent amount of self discipline with accessories. I’m working on the books addiction I have, but aside from that I’m a good girl. Except for food. New spices, fresh veggies, yummy breads breads breads galore! I love food! But like I said, trying to quell the spending. We needs to be savin’ some money yo, we gots plans, big plans! If such plans come to fruition, then you get to hear about it. For now, we continue to dream our illustrious dreams (I mean, this is Coriander Dreams, so that’s fitting).And so, I refuse to go to grocery stores unless absolutely necessary! It has become an experiment of sorts, discovering what I can drudge up with whatever I have at home. Granted, I still have a decent assortment of ingredients, but for the past few days I have run out of tomatoes. Just saying that makes me cry a little. Do you know how much I love them? Just a light sprinkling of salt and pepper and I could feast like a beastly king, juicy seeds dribbling down my cheeks… ok, I’ve made you ill with that image. I apologize. Think about pizza! Wonderful tomato sauce-laden pizza! There, that should erase the bad things.
Enough rambling. Down to business. I had a plethora of onions, absolutely no tomatoes, and by chance a bag of small round eggplants. Voila! The French onion eggplant is quickly born… and just as quickly consumed. Life cycles run short around here, when our tummies are involved.
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 8 small (Indian) eggplants
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 3 tsp minced coriander leaves
- 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp Red chili powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- 2 cups chicken broth/veggie broth/water
- 1 tsp flour
- Salt/black pepper
- Squeeze of lime (optional)
In an oven preheated to 400 F, lightly oil the eggplants and roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they are cooked down completely (rotate them once or twice during the process). Meanwhile, in a large pot, add 2 tbsp oil on low-medium heat and cook down the onions. Mix it up so that the onions are all evenly coated and slightly sizzling, then cover the pot for 10 minutes so they can sweat out and release water without burning . Remove the cover, and stirring frequently let them literally melt away. The red onions will slowly caramelize (releasing their natural sweetness) and turn a darker brown translucent hue. The color of perfection. Keep the heat low enough that they don’t burn but make sure they continue to sizzle throughout.
Add the minced garlic to the onions, and let them simmer down as well. Eventually you can add the garam masala, coriander leaves and powder, red chili powder, and turmeric, mixing well for a few minutes. Next, stir in the flour, making sure to cook it thoroughly into a nice paste. Add your broth or water (I use a vegan “chicken” bouillon powder that seriously is the tastiest new addition to my kitchen of late. The label fell off long ago though, and I can’t remember what the heck it was called and cannot seem to find it again anywhere… Oh blasted barnacles! Don’t let such a tragedy happen to you, my friends! Keep your labels). Bring the mixture to a boil (this takes on the appearance of French onion soup, with the sweet onion broth brewing beneath your taste buds) and then reduce to a simmer.
You can let it cook down to the consistency you like. The longer you cook, the thicker it becomes (using more flour contributes to that as well). You can also use an immersion blender if you want to chop up the onions entirely and make a smoother stew. I prefer the onion strands myself. Plus I don’t have an immersion blender yet, so the decision was already made for me I suppose.
Now it’s time for eggplant! I hope you remembered to remove them after 15-20 minutes roasting away. Otherwise you have a nice Cajun eggplant in your midst, an eggplant brulee if you will. Anyhoo, I failed to do this but in hindsight I recommend making a few incisions/slices into the roasted eggplants so they take in more of the broth flavors. Add the eggplant into the pot and let that bubble away on low for 10 minutes.
Taste the broth and add salt/black pepper to taste.
Huzzah! It’s ready! Dazzle with that fresh drizzle of lime juice if you want to, for a nice kick at the end, and serve on top of rice, couscous, quinoa or even simply as a soup with some bread. We coupled it with some roasted cauliflower and peas. A splendid experience.