Friday, September 28, 2012

Lentils with Eggplant and Garam Masala

I've prepared several recipes with eggplant this past month, but I haven't recently given eggplant an Indian twist. Seeing as how eggplant originated there, it seemed fitting to cap off September with this Indian-spiced recipe. There are two parts to my post tonight: start with a homemade garam masala spice blend, and then move on to the lentils themselves. If you prefer, you can find pre-ground garam masala in the spice section of the grocery store.

For the Garam Masala:
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
1. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, and add all the ingredients.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the spices are toasted.

2. Transfer the spice mixture to a spice grinder and process until finely ground.

Note: you 'll have more spice mixture than you need for the following recipe, but there are plenty of ways to use the left-overs.

Rub over tofu slices before pan-searing:

Stir a little into couscous for a quick, spiced side dish:

Or sprinkle over steamed vegetables:

The garam masala will keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Info:
18 servings (1 teaspoon), Calories 1.5

And now on to the main event:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Garam Masala
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 (1-pound) eggplant
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini
  • 4 and 1/2 cups hot cooked basmati rice
1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and Garam Masala; saute for 3 minutes.  Peel and chop the eggplant, and add to the pan, along with the tomato, turmeric, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 7 minutes, until the eggplant is tender.

2. Add the lentils, water, salt, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the zucchini and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for a final 10 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.  Discard the bay leaves.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice according to package directions.  Serve 1 and 1/4 cups lentil mixture over 3/4 cup rice on each of 6 plates.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 and 1/4 cups lentil mixture, 3/4 cup rice), Calories 447 

Tasting Notes:
I really enjoyed the tender eggplant and lentils, but surprisingly, this dish is a touch bland. Since you've gone to the trouble of making all that Garam Masala, I recommend adding at least a teaspoon more. The recipe would also benefit from tomato paste, in addition to the chopped tomato, and perhaps a little more olive oil. Still, very nice Indian flavors, minus the heaviness and oiliness characteristic of dishes served at Indian restaurants here in the States.


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