I have a great fondness for curry dishes. There’s something about the warm, earthy spice combinations that makes me crave all the variations from Indian to Thai, Vietnamese to even my own attempts at home.
A few recent studies of turmeric, one of the main curry ingredients, have given me new reasons to love curry — it appears to have some pretty amazing potential health benefits.
To be honest, I am always skeptical of such claims. Before I buy into the latest health claim, my finger itch to Google-up some real scientific research from reliable sources. Turmeric may actually hold up to the claims. Here’s what I found out …
The active compound in turmeric, curcumin, has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The same compound is currently being studied at the Medical College of Georgia as a treatment for reducing the size of a hemorrhagic stroke. Turmeric is also being researched as a preventative for heart failure, as well as for Alzheimer’s among other diseases. It’s no surprise that turmeric has been a natural cure used for centuries in India. While the research has yet to yield a “magic pill” — for humans at least — having a helping of curry is sounding better and better.
The average curry powder blend you buy at the store has about 20 percent turmeric. It won’t be the concentrations used in the various studies, obviously. Still, you may want to make your own curry blend to be sure it contains plenty of turmeric. Otherwise, look on the spice label (if it provides one) to be sure that turmeric is the first ingredient in the list.
If you are looking for a good excuse to eat more curry, this recipe for an eggplant and long bean curry dish is just the thing.
Curried Eggplant and Long Beans
1 lb. eggplant, diced
1 lb. long beans, or green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small hot pepper, diced
3 tbs. canola oil
2 tbs. crunchy peanut butter
2 tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. sweet curry powder
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juice only
1 bunch Thai basil, or regular basil chopped
Salt to taste
Be sure to avoid getting any of the eggplant stems and leaves in the mix. Like potatoes and tomatoes, they are members of the nightshade family. Stems and leaves are toxic. Dice the eggplant first. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain, drying on a towel before using.
Heat the 2 tbs. oil in a large skillet or wok. Saute the eggplant for about three minutes. Remove from pan. Add the beans and saute for a couple minutes. Remove. Add the other tbs. of oil to the pan and heat. Add the onion and garlic and chili. Saute until just golden, browned garlic can get bitter.
Add the curry powder, brown sugar and peanut butter. Mix. Add the vegetable stock to deglaze. Add the eggplant and beans back in. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and let it reduce for a couple minutes. Finish the dish with the squeeze of lime and half the chopped basil. Season to taste with salt, if desired. Serve over rice and garnish with the rest of the basil and some chopped peanuts.