Chicken with Creamy Roasted Eggplant

The semester has finally ended and I'm just waiting on my grades. I've already jumped into working on field work, and I'm so excited about where my new project is going. I'm also excited because I finally have time to really focus on some cooking. During my stressful times of the semester, my inspiration waned as I focused on other tasks, but now I am ready to spend some serious time in the kitchen. As such, I went to the library and perused the cookbook section and found myself in the Asian cuisine section. I had almost bought some curry mix at World Market earlier in the afternoon, but now that I have time to cook, why not experiment and enjoy myself? I picked up several cookbooks with the express purpose of preparing some beautiful eggplant I had gotten a few days ago on sale at my favorite health food store in town, Sun Harvest. I picked up three books based on their table of contents. Oddly enough, one of them ended up being a Turkish cuisine cookbook, which had found itself in the Indian section. So, for dinner tonight I combined two concepts; one from the Indian cookbook and the other from the Turkish cookbook. I made a light chicken and vegetable curry/stew (hard to tell what it is since it's Turkish-Indian fusion!) with a base of smoky roasted eggplant. I chose the east Indian-style eggplant over the Turkish one simply because it was much simpler to do. The Turkish recipe just had the eggplant as a side dish with some stewed chicken, but I mixed the shredded roasted eggplant into the chicken stew and allowed them to simmer together. The eggplant became silky and broke down into strands that wrapped around the chicken and other vegetables. I spiced the stew with cumin and coriander instead of dill and kept the parsley in order to bring home the Indian flavor in a subtle way but keep the look of the Turkish stew. This was not as heavy as a winter-style stew, so it was perfect for a springtime meal. The meal came together with the addition of brown rice.

Here is the information for the two books I loosely based this recipe on:

Smoky Aubergine Puree from India Food & Cooking by Pat Chapman
Begendili Tavuk from The Sultan's Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan

Chicken with Creamy Roasted Eggplant
Printable Recipe

1 approximately 1 lb eggplant
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-2" pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lg red bell pepper, chopped roughly
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes 
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
pinch ground red pepper or red pepper flakes
pinch of sugar, or to taste
1/2 tbsp minced parsley
juice of 1 small or half a large lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Poke the eggplant with a fork and place on a baking tray lined with foil for easy clean-up. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn on the broiler to allow the skin to char slightly, rotating the eggplant to make sure it chars evenly. Remove from oven to cool slightly so it can be handled.
2. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to the hot saucepan. Cook the chicken until it is opaque.
3. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and onion to the chicken and cook until they are tender and the onions are translucent.
5. Meanwhile, remove the eggplant from the pan to a bowl and peel off the skin and cut off the top. With a fork, mash and shred the eggplant.
4. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, and sugar to the chicken mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and partially cover the saucepan with a lid. Simmer at least 15 minutes.
5. Taste the stew and re-season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Fold in the parsley and lemon juice. Serve immediately with rice or bread.

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