In summer, we soak our feet in cold water, swim in cold lakes, and eat cold food to cool us down. People raised in hot countries -- equatorial countries -- know better; they eat hot and spicy food, which encourages perspiration, the body's natural response to too much heat. Cooks have a few options to keep the heat down in the kitchen, too: grill outside, or use a slow cooker indoors. This Punjabi eggplant with potatoes cools you down in two ways; it's made in a slow cooker, and contains just enough chile pepper to get your body's natural cooling system going. Adjust the heat level to your own taste. When you get eggplant in your CSA box or at the farmers' market, try this recipe served with rice, or topped with some plain yogurt or raita.
Slow cooker Punjabi eggplant with potatoes
Slightly adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker, this recipe serves 8 (can be halved).
2 medium eggplants, stem end removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice (approx. 10-12 cups)
1 large Idaho or Yukon Gold potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium yellow or red onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp ginger paste (or grated fresh ginger root)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground red chile pepper
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp kosher salt, or to taste
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
Combine eggplant, potato, onion, ginger, garlic, jalapeño peppers, cumin, ground chile pepper, garam masala, turmeric and oil in a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Stir as best you can to distribute the spices and oil. (The smaller cooker will be frighteningly full, but don't worry; the eggplant will cook down.) Cook on HIGH for 2 hours, stirring after 1 hour.
After the first two hours of cooking, stir well. There should be a nice amount of moisture in the cooker, and the eggplant should have collapsed a bit. If there is plenty of liquid in the pot, continue cooking on LOW for 30 minutes, uncovered. If there's not much liquid, cook on LOW for 30 minutes with the cover on.
Add the salt and cilantro, to taste. (Salt added during the cooking will draw more moisture out of the eggplant, so it's best added at the end.)
Serve at room temperature, over rice or topped with raita, or make ahead.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Slow cooker chicken vindaloo
Pakistani "old clothes" beef curry (nihari) in the slow cooker
Slow cooker Indian-spiced butternut squash
Mushroom bhaji (mushrooms in tomato-onion sauce)
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Tatsoi with garam masala, from Andrea Meyers
Vegan garam masala cookies, from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Masala turmeric squid with coconut cream, from Rasa Malaysia
Roasted eggplant with a yogurt-turmeric sauce, from Fearless Kitchen
Grilled halibut with cumin and lime, from Kalyn's Kitchen
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