On Sunday, I had a minor accident, which left me with cuts and bruises, plus a very swollen and painful left foot. On Monday, I was giving a dinner party for our wonderful friends – and fellow bloggers - Ligeia and Mindy…. and I had a bit of a dilemma as I knew I would not be able to stand up for ages, slaving over a hot stove! I’d already decided to make a Burmese meal, not least because being strict vegans, it’s unlikely that L&M are able to partake of the amazing Shan fare we have here in Chiang Mai, on account of the fish sauce that’s usually used, even in vegetarian dishes. I opted for a selection of salads, plus the Burmese eggplant curry (which I adapted from this one over at VeganiseThis!, and of course, rice. Most of it, I knew, I could prepare sitting down.
Along with the curry, I made Laphet Thoke (pronounced lah-pay toe), which is a fermented tea leaf salad. It sounds revolting but is amazingly gorgeous! I also made a Burmese banana flower salad, and a Burmese tomato salad, to which I added some raw snake beans.
Naturally, the recipes for all of these will be posted in a few days but first I wanted to give you the curry recipe as an introduction to Shan food… y’know, before we get into the weird stuff! Although, it’s probably fair to say that this is more a Burmese-Thai fusion than a genuine Burmese eggplant curry!
You can of course, use any veg you wish – I think pumpkin or butternut squash would work exceptionally well, for example. Oh, and by the way, as a main meal with just rice, this is plenty for two people but as you can see, with several other dishes, there was enough for the four of us…. although there was much guilt-tripping of the person who finished it off!
L-R: Mindy, amato mio, Ligeia. We are so very classy… that’s white wine in those half-pint glasses!
This mild Burmese eggplant curry (which I adapted from a Veganise This recipe) with its fragrant, piquant gravy, is a perfect blend of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours. Like the Shan people, I prefer my curries to be mild, with only a little kick .... but you can make yours as hot as you like!
A word of warning though, if you're using Thai chillies, don't be fooled by the size or colour; tiny green bird's eye chillis can pack a huge punch, whereas very often, the large red ones can be quite mild. My advice, unless you have a high tolerance for chilli, stick with the ones you know!
500g eggplant ([aubergines] sliced)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 medium tomatoes (chopped into chunks)
200ml coconut milk
2-3 kaffir lime leaves (shredded)
1 medium de-seeded red chilli (sliced. Add more if you like a hotter dish!)
6 spring onions (white and green parts, chopped)
3 cloves garlic (large, roughly chopped)
1 stalk lemongrass (sliced finely)
5 cm fresh ginger root (peeled and chopped)
2.5 cm fresh galangal root (peeled and chopped)
1 tablespoon Thai soy sauce (or other thin soy sauce)
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tamarind purée
In a large mortar and pestle, pound the chilli, spring onions, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and galangal into a paste. Or whizz briefly in a food processor or mixie! Don't worry that it's quite coarse at the moment.
Add the soy sauce and palm sugar, and continue to pound/whizz until the paste is a bit smoother. Add the water and the tamarind purée, and mix well.
If you're doing this by hand, as I did, the paste isn't going to be as smooth as it would be if done in a processor, but that's fine. It all evens out during the cooking!
Heat up the oil in a wok or large, shallow pan (test the heat with a strand of lime leaf - if it sizzles rapidly, the oil is ready). Add the aubergines, and quickly stir-fry until they begin to soften.
Add the tomatoes, and continue to fry for another three or four minutes. Add the turmeric, stir in, and fry for another minute.
Stir in the curry paste, making sure that everything in the pan is well-coated. Stir-fry for three or four minutes, until the 'raw' smell has gone.
Mix in the coconut milk, turn down the heat, and allow to simmer for around 10 minutes, until the gravy has thickened.
Serve in bowls, garnished with strands of kaffir lime leaf.
Nutritional content per portion (serves two as a main course - if serving four as a side dish, then please halve the values below). Please note that these are based on the ingredients I used – your own may be slightly different.