Last time I was in Anchorage, I bought an eggplant. I was very excited about this eggplant, because it was something I hadn’t tasted since, oh, probably March. Eggplants aren’t exactly readily available out here in rural Alaska.
The eggplant soon presented an unforeseen problem, however. When was I going to cook it? Shortly after I got back to Kennicott from Anchorage, I went into the backcountry. Then suddenly, I had another backcountry trip book, and out I went again! I did slightly consider bringing half of my eggplant out with me and adding it to a curry dinner, but I decided to wait. So, by the time I was back from both backcountry trips, it had almost been two weeks, and I desperately needed to cook my eggplant before it was too late!
So when Joe and I planned to make our raspberry jam the other night, I also insisted on cooking my eggplant. The weather up here has been chilly, so stew sounded like a good option. Before Joe got up to Kennicott and we started making the jam, I cut up and salted the eggplant so it would be ready. I was thinking that stew time would probably be around 9 or so, kinda late, yes, but after the jam was done.
Of course, jam took a little longer than expected, and stew time actually ended up being a little after 10. By that time I was starving, and kept thinking, this eggplant is taking wayyyyy too long to cook! When the stew was done though, Joe and I had just finished cleaning everything up, so it was actually ideal timing.
The stew was wonderfully warm and delicious, but I realized, when I ate some more of it for lunch the next day, that either I was too tired to appreciate all the flavors the night before, or the flavors had improved over time. I decided it’s probably the latter reason, so I would recommend making this stew the day before, if you get the chance.
The two lunches that I got from this stew were wonderful eaten over some greens. The first day I enjoyed it with some collards, and the next day with some kale. Collards turned out to be an ideal combination – yum! All the veggies were out of my garden, which is currently giving me plenty to eat; it’s wonderful.
Moroccan Eggplant Stew
1 medium eggplant
1 medium onion, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas, drained (I used ones I’d canned at home – delicious!)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup vegetable stock
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
fresh mint for garnish
Cut the ends off the eggplant, then chop it into 3/4″ cubes. Sprinkle it with salt and let drain in a colander for about an hour (or uh, like 3 hours if you’re me!).
In a large pot, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and paprika. Stir well, coating the onion with spices. Cook until onions are translucent, stirring often. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, chickpeas and stock. Simmer over low heat until eggplant is tender. If the stew looks too soupy, you can uncover and let the liquid boil away for a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.