I’ve heard people say they don’t like aubergines but, on closer investigation (just call me Ace Detective Janey Dodge), it’s rarely the taste that they object to. It’s the texture that generally seems to be the problem. They’re either not soft enough and have a kind of rubbery, teeth-on-edge consistency, or they’re too mushy and disappear when you cook them, begging the question ‘Why did I bother in the first place?’
People, it doesn’t have to be this way! Well-cooked aubergines (as in aubergines which are cooked properly) are a unique and special treat. They’re not quite like anything else – but in a good way. They’re low in calories, high in soluble fibre and are a great source of some of those lovely B vitamins that you need to metabolise all the protein, carbs and healthy fats that you eat. Plus aubergines are your friend if you want to keep young and beautiful; that luscious purple skin contains anti-oxidant anthocyanins, which won’t halt the ageing process (erm, they’re not cryogenic) but will protect and nurture cells.
Aubergine and Spinach Curry
For the curry paste:
1 dessertspoon good vegetable oil
1 stick lemongrass, rough husk removed then chopped finely
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 teaspoon fresh tamarind, grated (or 1 teaspoon dried, chopped finely)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
Half teaspoon chilli flakes
Handful fresh coriander, chopped
2 large aubergines (eggplant), cut in to chunks
200ml vegetable stock
200g spinach, roughly chopped
1 Blend all of the ingredients for the paste together with a food processor or stick blender.
2 Cook the paste in a heated wok or large saucepan for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Note: you don’t need to add extra oil – there’s enough in the paste.
3 Add the aubergines and stir well until they’re fully coated with the curry paste. Place a lid on the pan and cook over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes until the aubergines are starting to soften.
4 Add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for a further 5-10 minutes. Use a fork to test the aubergines occasionally. Hard is horrid but you don’t want them turning to mush.
5 When the aubergines are cooked, add the spinach and stir well. Cook for a further two minutes until the spinach is just starting to wilt.
Serve with brown rice (or Basmati rice if you have a race or long run the next day – there’s only so much fibre a body can handle before a big run).