Dinner Tonight: An Indian Summer

It's late summer and you've tried everything. You've made batch after batch of gazpacho and eaten so many caprese salads, you're surprised you haven't turned into a tomato. It's time to keep your passion for cooking alive -- what better way to spice it up than by preparing a veritable Indian weeknight feast? Eat this tomato biryani and eggplant and tomato curry together to celebrate the best of summer.

The Menu

Purnima Garg's Eggplant and Tomato Curry by luvcookbooks

This recipe serves 4-6

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, sliced
4 Japanese (long and thin) eggplants, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 serrano chile, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon coriander
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan until it shimmers. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and heat about 30 seconds, until they pop.

2. Add the sliced onions, and stir occasionally over medium high heat until they are deep brown in spots (this will take a while, but makes a big difference to the taste and they won't burn if you are careful).

3. Add the eggplant and fry until the skin is turning brown and the flesh just starts to soften. You may have to add a little more oil.

4. Add the chile, coriander, garam masala, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium low and cook until the eggplant is soft. Add a little water if it is getting too dry but it will be more solid than watery.

5. Serve with white rice, spicy Indian lime pickle, and plain full-fat Greek yogurt (you only use a little yogurt and the low-fat yogurt tastes thin and sour).

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Tomato Rice (Tamatar Biryani)

tomato biryani

Get the recipe.

The Grocery List (for 4)

Although this list looks long, it's mostly spices, some of which you will likely have at home.

4 Japanese (long and thin) eggplants
3 to 4 serrano chiles
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup Indian or Pakistani white basmati rice
1 small red onion
1 yellow onion
1 teaspoon shredded fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
14 ounces (or more) Fage Greek yogurt (full-fat)
16 mint leaves
8 ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
6 green or white cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches long)
2 blades mace
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

We're also assuming that you have garlic, salt, pepper, canola oil, water, sugar, and ghee or butter at home. If not, add those to the list!

The Plan

1. Rinse and soak the rice and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Get the eggplant curry simmering (some exciting mustard seed-popping and onion-sizzling going on here), then get going on the biryani.

3. Serve the two dishes together with a dollop of Greek yogurt for good measure.