I'd cook up a lot more Indian dishes if they didn't involve so many freaking ingredients. Everything that makes the different regional cuisines of India so fascinating also makes them nearly impossible to fit into Dinner Tonight's format. So I jumped all over this recipe from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer the moment I saw just ten ingredients listed. The amount of flavor packed into this dish is astounding, and, luckily, it doesn't taste like a dumbed-down version of a more complex dish.
Though I was initially intrigued by the use of apple, because of the sweetness it might add, the flavor kind of gets lost amongst the stronger fennel and cumin, and that's fine. What the apple does add is a nice tartness, contributing to the slightly bitter tone of the dish. Don't be alarmed—Iyer did this on purpose, and he seems to take pleasure in admitting he loves it. It's traditional but may turn some people off. I, for one, ate about three servings. It tickled all the right taste buds.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 ground
- 2 dried red chilies, stems removed
- 1 medium eggplant (about 8 ounces), stems removed, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 1 Braeburn or Granny Smith apple, cored, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Pour the oil into a skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the fennel seeds, whole cumin seeds, and the chiles. Cook, stirring vigorously, for about 15 seconds.
Add the eggplant and apple. Sprinkle in the salt, coriander, ground cumin, and turmeric. Cook, stirring often to incorporate the seasoning, for three minutes.
Pour in 1/2 cup of water and scape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Turn heat to medium, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Stir every 3 minutes or so.
Season with more salt to taste and garnish with cilantro.