After umpteen years of cooking in Japan, how is it that one of my favourite meals is Iranian Eggplant Stew? The recipe was given to me by an Australian friend who lived in Tokyo in the 80s and brought it with him to Osaka in the 90s. Apparently, a cookbook was compiled by some society of expat wives (some married to Japanese husbands) – lots of international dishes adapted for the Japanese palate (of the day) and the availability of ingredients in Japan (read ‘Tokyo’). In 2003, I was leafing through his copy, which was falling apart from use, and came across the stew recipe. He photocopied it (and promptly moved back to Melbourne, an unrelated event) and the now tomato-spattered page has seen me through many an autumn and winter evening. I modify it to suit my tastes (I throw in some broccoli now and then, or mushrooms, which is probably not how it’s done in Tehran).
I’d gladly give the cookbook publishing credit if any is due (a shout-out to anyone reading this in Tokyo who might have some info, like the title). In the meantime, many thanks to Ms. Margaret Sadeghpour-Kouti, wherever you are now.
1 piece of chicken per person
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder (store-bought, or your own concoction)
half-a-teaspoon of pepper
3-6 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 small Japanese eggplants (or half an American-size eggplant) per person
1-2 cups tomato sauce plus 1-2 cups of water (or 2-4 cups tomato juice, or fresh tomatoes). Or, the lazy bachelor’s variation, one can of tomatoes and water to taste.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt, curry powder and pepper, and brown in oil. Set aside. Peel and slice the eggplant lengthwise, brown in oil and sprinkle with salt and curry powder. Add tomato sauce and water and chicken to the eggplants and simmer until the chicken is very tender (you could also throw in the other vegetables at this point). Sauce should be quite thick, so simmer uncovered for the last few minutes if necessary. Serve over rice (or even better, couscous, although boiled and buttered potatoes aren’t bad either).