I cheated again. But it was worth it. The bean stock base makes this both really healthy and really satisfying, and (without going all Masterchef) it has some lovely complex flavours. Beans are so high protein, and complete protein when they are combined with a grain, that even regular meat eaters feel like they’ve had a real dinner. And they’re low GI, high fibre, full of vitamins and minerals.
The thing I am finding about the Tuesday Night Vego Challenge is that the range of healthy, from scratch, vegetarian dinners you can make in half an hour is much bigger if you put a bit of pre-thinking into it. Proving dough, soaking beans, salting eggplant all take only minutes to do, but you have to do them ahead of time.
This dinner came together in half an hour, including the naan bread to go with it. But I put the beans in water to soak, the eggplant salted, and the naan bread dough proving before I left for work in the morning. All very fast easy morning jobs, and they meant that when I got home I could just put it all together.
Makes three adult serves. Leftovers are even better the next day.
In the morning:
- Soak ½ cup white beans.
- Chop a large eggplant (or the equivalent in small eggplants) into 2 cm dice, put in a colander, and sprinkle with a heaped spoonful of salt.
In the evening:
Drain the beans, add 2 cups of fresh water and a good pinch of salt, and pressure cook for 8 minutes or simmer for 25 minutes until they are very soft. Then blend the beans in the cooking water to get a smooth liquid bean stock.
While the beans are cooking:
Prepare Dry Spice Mix:
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon dill seeds
Prepare Wet Spice Mix
Use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to blend to a paste:
- Thumb sized piece of fresh turmeric (or substitute a teaspoon of dried turmeric)
- Thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
- 2 medium hot chilis (more or less to taste)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 onion, finely sliced into half moons
- 1 capsicum diced
- 1 large eggplant chopped into 2 cm dice, salted and rinsed.
In a large heavy pot:
- Fry the dry spice mix until the seeds are popping.
- Add the wet spice mix and the rinsed eggplant, capsicum and onion.
- Cook on high stirring for a few minutes to seal and coat the vegetables in spices, then add the bean stock along with a good dessertspoon of tomato paste and two kaffir lime leaves (or substitute juice of half a lime and a little grated zest).
- Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is cooked.
- Serve in bowls, over rice or with naan bread. Fresh coriander makes a nice garnish.