The unique texture and flavor of eggplant will capture my unconditional love for as long as I live. If I see an eggplant recipe in a restaurant, I will order it without even a second thought. In my opinion, the core of eggplants lies in their sweet creaminess, developed after having been given the rightfully deserved amount of cooking time. I have experimented with multiple eggplant stews recipes, but kept coming to this Burmese eggplant curry recipe for both simplicity and fresh taste. It is one of those recipes I tend to go to when I have soaring passion to make a delicate treat but not enough time or energy to be in the kitchen for a long time.
Today, I am going to show you how a simple secret ingredient underlies almost all good aromatic Burmese dishes. It’s freshly fried shallots and garlic. After shallots and garlics have been fried in oil with a dash of turmeric, the oil becomes gorgeously golden and permeated with mild oniony and sweet garlicky aroma. You can fry anything with this golden elixir liquid, top with the freshly fried shallots rings, and everything can taste delicious. I have regularly abused the intense aroma of infused oil as far as drizzling over noodles for my late night cravings. There is no shame in doing what you love as long as you don’t do too publicly.
In this recipe, I fried my eggplant chunks in shallot-and-garlic-infused oil, stewed them in fresh tomato puree with spices, and finally top with fried shallots and cilantro. When you mix that fried shallots into the stew, you are just instantly hit with an powerful sweet flavor that makes you want to dive in right away. The fried shallots, along with mustard seeds, also add a textural dimension to this creamy dish. Now, I wish you could see how perfect this dish is. I can and, in fact, want to eat this dish every single day.
1 lbs. of Asian eggplants (cut into 2 cm cubes)
0.5 lbs. of tomato (puree in food processor)
2 teaspoons of turmeric powder (one for frying shallots; one for stewing later)
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 tablespoon of cilantro
1 cup of neutral oil, such as canola oil
1 cup of shallots (sliced into rings)
4 cloves of garlic (sliced)
3 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan under medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Cook for about 7 minutes until shallots turn translucent.
- At this stage, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder. Stir and fry the shallots and garlic until they turn golden brown (about 10-15 minutes). Be sure to stir occasionally to avoid getting burnt.
- Scoop out golden shallots and garlic pieces, and add eggplant cubes. The eggplants will pretty much drink up almost the oil. The shallots and garlics will turn crunchy as they cool down.
- Crank up the heat to high, and fry the eggplant pieces with constant stirring until the edges are almost charred (about 15 minutes). This will give a great deal of flavor to the dish.
- Add in tomato puree, spices, and water, cover and let the dish simmer under medium high heat for 20 minutes. The liquid should be reduced to about ½ to 1/3. If the liquid is reduced too much, add a bit more water.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cilantro, fish sauce, sugar and let it simmer for 1-2 more minutes so that cilantro can perfume the dish.
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper. It is really important to trust your taste buds. Just because I like it doesn’t mean you will feel the same. Top with fried shallots and garlics and the remainder of cilantro.