Eggplant, Chickpea, and Potato Curry

The heat is still on in VA and the humidity is threatening to make me consider never leaving the comfort of my air conditioned apartment. Usually when it is blazing hot outside, I crave one of two things:  green monster smoothies or spicy foods. The smoothies make sense - the spicy food...not so much.  Call me crazy, but I love a hot and spicy meal during the dog days of summer.  I'm not quite sure why but I'm guessing it's because it gives me an excuse to drink a cool and refreshing glass of wine and/or a margarita.An unrelenting spicy food craving for curry struck me hard during a super hot day.  My curry cravings run deep and once I crave it, I must have it.  Curry is one of my absolute favorite foods and always reminds me of my grandpa who's family is from India.  Whenever we visit my grandparents or they come to visit, there is always a curry night.  The smell of curry bubbling away on the stove is such a nostalgic scent and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.    The only downside of curry is that it can take awhile to really develop all of those complex flavors and that long while is totally worth it - unless you're starving because you did yoga in the park in the afternoon and didn't properly refuel. Not that I know from experience or anything.

I decided to get a little reminiscent and make some curry for dinner, even though it was a billion degrees outside with humidity. I planned on making my curry low and slow but in the midst of my curry frenzy, I got pretty ravenous and just had to have it. The instant the spicy curry hit my mouth I was transported to my grandparent's kitchen and thought my grandpa's family back in India.  And you know what? I think my Indian family would be pretty proud of my curry. The fiance tasted it and  declared that it may be the best curry I've ever made (and I make my fair share of curry).  And that's good enough for me.

Eggplant, Chickpea, and Potato Curry Yields:  2-3 servings (it makes really, really good leftovers the next day)

1 Tbsp butter 2 Tbsp olive oil 1/2 large onion, small diced 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 Tbsp garam masala 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne, adjust according to your spice preference 1/2 tsp. ground coriander 1/4 tsp. ground cumin a small knob, about the size of your pinky nail, of fresh ginger, minced 1 small bay leaf 2 medium yellow potatoes, diced (about 1" thick) 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained 2 medium chinese eggplants (I used 2 skinny eggplants, you can use however much or little you like.  I also like chinese eggplant because it seems less bitter to me). 1 can diced tomatoes water (I used one tomato can full of water - see instructions) salt + pepper to taste 1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1. Char your eggplant.  I placed mine directly on my gas stove over a medium flame and rotated them around until it was fully charred.  You can also roast your eggplant in the oven until it is tender. Set aside to cool. You can peel off the charred parts if you like but I suggest leaving them on. They taste incredible.Get all your other ingredients ready while you're waiting. 2. Heat a deep pot with butter and oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add your onions and saute until translucent, about 7-10 minutes. 3.  Add your garlic and ginger to the pot and saute until very fragrant, another 2-3 minutes.  Add your spices (garam masala, cayenne, coriander, cumin) to the mix.  Heat until you smell the spices, it only takes a minute or so. 4. Add your chickpeas, potatoes, and eggplants to the mix and give it a quick stir. 5. Add can of diced tomatoes plus enough water to barely cover (it usually ends up to be one tomato can full of water).  Also throw in your tomato paste and bay leaf at this time. 6.  Let the mix simmer on the stove, covered, for as long as you can stand it.  I did mine for about 30 minutes or so since I like my curry with a bit of liquid.  When you're nearing the end of your simmer time, partially uncover the pot and let it go for another 5-10 minutes to thicken up even more. 7.  Taste. Season with salt and pepper.  You're probably going to use more salt than you think is necessary but do it - the potatoes and eggplant really suck it up. 8.  Serve piping hot over some brown basmati rice (don't forget to remove the bay leaf!) and try not to burn your mouth.