In my home country of Trinidad and Tobago, this garlicky eggplant dish, often referred to as “baighan” or “melongene,” isn’t considered a recipe because all it requires is a low flame, a handful of garlic cloves, a hearty dash of curry powder, and eggplant. The biggest win of this wholly vegan eggplant recipe, which tingles with bright bursts of heat and bite, is its range and functionality. Growing up on the island, I ate it for breakfast. These days, I heap creamy spoonfuls of melongene (eggplant) over steamed brown rice for a hearty meal on a weeknight. During the balmy summer months, pair it with peppery fresh arugula and pan-seared citrusy chicken thighs.
Makes 2-3 servings
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (Chief or madras)
- 1 medium globe eggplant (12-16 oz.)
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or other spicy hot sauce)
- 1 cup pre-cooked steamed brown rice (to serve)
- ½ cup of water (divided)
- Cut the top off the eggplant as close as possible to its upper stem. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the thick purple skin from the eggplant and discard. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, then cut each half into thirds, making thick long steaks. Cut each steak into four or five pieces, making a large dice.
- Ready a saute pan with a well-fitting lid, fork and large metal spoon. Add the oil to the pan and allow it to heat for about 30 seconds over medium heat.
- Add the curry powder and stir to combine the curry powder into the oil for a minute. Reduce heat to medium low.
- Add the eggplant and stir to ensure the chunks of eggplant are coated with the oily curry.
- Stream in a ¼ cup of water and stir.
- Allow the eggplant to cook, covered, for about seven to nine minutes, until the eggplant is tender.
- While the eggplant is cooking, peel and mince garlic using a chef’s knife.
- Remove the lid, stream in another ¼ cup of water, stir, cover and cook for another seven minutes.
- Remove the lid, using a fork, mash the eggplant, which should be tender and juicy.
- Add garlic, salt, and Tabasco and stir to combine.
- Cook uncovered for another three minutes, until flavors have melded and garlic has mellowed. Remove from heat and season with salt and hot sauce to taste.
- Serve over brown rice.
Recipe by: Chef Brigid Washington