I’ll be quite honest and say that football season renders my willpower useless. You’ve got meatballs, rotel, or spinach dip in a bread bowl? Count me in. A beer or two? Yes, please. Ole Miss having a winning, but occasionally heartbreaking, season? Reason to celebrate. So, now that football is over, finally (it was really getting on my nerves), I’m starting over again.
Thursday afternoon I came home from work a bit early. Leaving early and needing to go to the grocery store coincided with all the crazies who need milk and eggs to survive the next few days while the power is out and icy roads prevent all transportation. Just kidding! Well, at least about the power and ice. Those people will still come out in droves any time Dan Brown mentions “wintry mix” or “32 degrees.” I chose to go with two Indian curries I’ve been wanting to try out. The spices used in curries, like cloves and cinnamon, make them the perfect winter meal. Warm and comforting, and guess what? The eggplant dish is paleo. The two I made this weekend while waiting for the dreaded ice storm to arrive are vegetarian, but you can add dairy if you like. I also made chole, or chana masala, with chickpeas. While chickpeas are not paleo since they are legumes, I have not had significant issues after eating legumes, though I do try to avoid eating them regularly. I think you could replace the chickpeas with chopped vegetables like cauliflower or carrots.
Baingan Bharta from the New York Times
- 2 pounds eggplant
- 2 T lime juice
- 2 to 3 T coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeño or more to taste, thinly sliced (I used two and kept the seeds though you could take them out)
- 1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 t turmeric
- 1 t kosher salt or to taste (I use sea salt.)
- 1/2 c chopped cilantro, thin stems included
- 2 t garam masala
Prick the eggplant with a thin knife. Grill over or next to very high heat, turning as necessary until the skin is black and the eggplant collapses. (I used a grill pan with the stove on high heat and turned the eggplant as needed. It worked well.) You could also broil or roast in a heated cast-iron pan in the hottest possible oven. It should take about 20 minutes.
When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel the skin and then trim the stem. Chop or mash in a bowl with the lime juice.
Heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chiles and cook for another minute. Add the tomato, turmeric, and salt. Cook until the tomato is soft, 5 minutes or so.
Stir in the eggplant purée and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and garam masala and turn off the heat. Traditionally served hot with naan or over rice. However, this dish is hearty enough to be eaten without the bread or rice if you are paleo or primal.
Chole – Chickpea Curry
- 2 cans of chickpeas
- 2 T cooking oil (I use coconut oil.)
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 – 6 cloves
- 3 – 4 green cardamom pods
- 5 – 6 peppercorns
- 3 large onions, sliced thin
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2 T garlic paste
- 1 T ginger paste
- 2 t ground coriander
- 1 t ground cumin
- 1/2 cayenne powder
- 1/4 t turmeric
- 2 t garam masala
Grind two onions, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic together into a smooth paste. I used a small Cuisinart blender (the little bitty one with “grind” and “chop” buttons) and just processed everything together. It worked just fine seeing as I really didn’t want to get out my mortar and pestle…
Heat the oil in a deep, thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns, and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the remaining sliced onion and fry until light golden. Add the paste and sauté for about 6 – 8 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric, and garam masala and sauté for 5 minutes.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the pot. Add water, about 1 1/2 cups, and salt to taste. Simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush some of the chickpeas to thicken up the sauce. Garnish with julienned ginger or chopped cilantro if desired. Serve over rice if in your diet. I actually mixed some cilantro with some full fat Greek Gods plain yogurt and served it with the chole. This dish is really spicy – not hot, just spicy – and the yogurt cuts a little of that if needed. Very satisfying!