Eggplant Spinach Curry

1 large eggplant, diced, with skin
2 teaspoons coarse salt for sprinkling
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
6 tablespoons clarified butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pureed garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup water
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
2 bunches spinach, stems removed, washed, and cut in 2 inch pieces

Place eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with coarse salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to sweat. Pat dry with paper towels. Place mustard seeds in a small, dry sauté pan and cook over moderate heat until they turn gray and start popping. Remove from heat and reserve.

Heat 1/4 cup clarified butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Sauté eggplant, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Remove from heat and reserve in a bowl with mustard seeds.

Heat remaining butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and salt. Sauté until onions are golden and soft. Add garlic and ginger, cook just until aromas are released, then stir in all spices. Cook an additional minute, stirring constantly to blend spices and prevent scorching.

Add tomatoes, water, and sugar. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Add spinach, bring back to a boil, and stir in eggplant mixture. When eggplant is heated through, about 2 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

Yield: 4 entree servings or 6 accompaniments

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