I have a lovely cookbook “Healthy Indian Cooking”, which was published in England and has measurements in milliliters and the like – fortunately translated into our more familiar teaspoon and cup measures. It has charming turns of phrase, where eggplants are aubergines and zucchini are courgettes. It also has some translational hilarity, where one recipe tells you to make sure the cod pieces are well-coated in spices (look it up to find the giggles if it doesn’t make sense to you).
Indian cooking as I learned it many years ago always started with large amounts of oil to cook the inevitable onions, garlic, and spices that made the “gravy” of curries. The authors of this book use much the same methods as I do to make their recipes low fat. They cut the amount of fat down, and use very lean cuts of meat. In cooking their recipes, I have often cut the fat even further by using cooking spray and “sweating” the onions rather than cooking them in fat, or using a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon of fat.
The weather has turned unseasonably cold (is weather ever seasonable – but 17 degrees in early October is just plain wrong.) Cold weather has me thinking of turning on the oven to get warm. After baking several loaves of banana bread, I decided to find a baked Indian dish to make with the eggplant I just bought. This dish is quite festive looking. I recommend that you grind your own lamb, either in a meat grinder (more on meat grinding in a later post) or in the food processor. Don’t over process, though. You want lamb burger, not lamb pate. This dish also mixes a lot of vegetables in with the meat, making the dish not as heavy as lamb dishes can be. Also, it is not very spicy in terms of heat – not all Indian food is. But you could add a chili pepper or some cayenne pepper to heat it up.
Aubergines Stuffed with Lamb (That’s Eggplant to you)
2 medium eggplants
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced vertically
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium tomato, chopped
12 ounces of lean leg of lamb, ground
1 medium green pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium orange or red pepper seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Stuffed eggplant ingredients
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a baking pan large enough to hold the eggplant halves with cooking spray. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out most of the flesh, leaving enough shell to hold the filling. (More about what to do with the eggplant innards shortly.) Be careful not to pierce the shell. Spray the outside of the shells with cooking spray.
Spray a large saucepan (or wok in my case) with cooking spray. Add the oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Don’t let them burn. Gradually add the ginger, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, salt and ground coriander (I mixed them together in a small bowl before I started cooking). Add the chopped tomato. Lower the heat to medium low and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add the ground lamb and continue to stir-fry for 7-10 minutes, or until the lamb is no longer pink. Add the chopped peppers and chopped coriander to the lamb mixture and cook for 5 minutes more. Spoon the lamb mixture into the shells and spray the outer edges of the shells with a little cooking spray.
Bake until the eggplant has softened and the top of filling has browned. The recipe said that this would take about 25 minutes, but mine took almost an hour. I think maybe the eggplants I bought were larger than the British ones.
Serve on a bed of plain rice. This makes 4 servings at about 8 grams of fat/serving.
Variation: When I ate this, the eggplant was a little hard to tackle, although it looked really nice. So I wound up cutting the stuffed eggplant into pieces and mixing it with the rice. I wonder if you could just chop an eggplant and mix it in with the filling and bake it like a casserole?
NOTE: I couldn’t find this exact cookbook, by Shehzad Husain and Manisha Kanani on Amazon. I got it at Costco quite a while ago. But there were similar books by these authors, written both singularly and together.