Charring the eggplant before cooking is well worth the little bit of extra time it takes; it gives the whole dish an enticing smokiness. Serve the curry with rice (preferably basmati) and, if you like, top with additional chopped cilantro and tomatoes.
2 large eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds each), pricked all over with a fork
3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 pound baking potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
3 medium tomatoes (about 1 pound), chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
How to Make It
Heat the broiler. Put the whole eggplants on a baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally, until charred and soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, and jalapeño and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the potatoes, salt, and water and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the potatoes start to soften, about 10 minutes.
Cut each eggplant open and spoon the pulp into the potato mixture. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and heat through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro.
Wine Recommendation: A robust, grenache-based Gigondas or Vacqueyras from the southern Rhône valley will meld beautifully with the smoky and earthy flavors of this curry.