Rustic Comfort– Eggplant and Pea Stew
“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” — Julia Child
This past weekend, we got much needed rain. It was a welcome relief to the parched hills and landscape around us. All day long dark clouds played hide and seek, and brought spurts of heavy showers, at times accompanied by loud winds. I sat at my kitchen window observing nature’s enormous beauty. Washed in the rain, it had come alive.
But just gazing at the clouds was not the only option for me. I had to think of our hungry bellies also. On a day like this something warm, something satisfying is what most of us would crave for. I did too. Keeping it simple seemed like a good idea. A pot of earthy eggplant and green peas stew simmered in tomato gravy with warm spices came into play. Simple and flavorful –I called it rustic comfort!
The rusticity of this stew comes from the simple ingredients: eggplant cut into chunks and peas cooked with tomatoes and spices like cinnamon, bay leaves, and finished with garam masala (a warm spice blend used in Indian cuisine) with a drizzle of oil. It was a pot of fragrant warmth. Perfect for a day like this.
3 tablespoons canola oil plus to drizzle on top
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, diced small
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ – 1 teaspoon paprika
Chilli flakes to taste (optional)
salt to taste
2 inch-cinnamon stick
1-2 bay leaves
1 medium American eggplant, diced medium (1 inch)
1 ½ -2 cups water
1 cup frozen peas
Garam masala to sprinkle on top
Cilantro, parsley or mint for garnish
Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pot, and add cumin seeds to it. When the seeds start to impart aroma and turn a little golden, stir in onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes until golden. Add garlic, ginger, tomatoes, turmeric, paprika, chilli flakes (if using), cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in eggplant and cook for another 3-4 minutes until it is coated well with the tomato mixture. Add water and cover. Simmer for 12- 15 minutes. Add peas and cook for another 7-8 minutes on low heat. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon garam masala. Cover and set aside. Flavors with mature as it sits. Ideally make it a couple hours ahead.
To serve, ladle the eggplant stew in a bowl. Drizzle a little oil, sprinkle a pinch of garam masala. Garnish with cilantro, parsley, or mint.
Serve hot with brown rice, couscous, or your favorite grain.