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Warm Eggplant Masala with Tempura Squash

From: Chef Shawn McClain, Spring, Chicago. Yield: 4 servings.

3 large eggplants
2 yellow onions
3 carrots
10 plum tomatoes
4 Tbsp. sweet curry powder, separated
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 Tbsp. coriander
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. cardamom pinch of saffron
1 cup white wine to taste, salt and pepper
3 cups flour
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Coriander-Yogurt Sauce:
3⁄4 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole, not skim
1⁄2 bunch cilantro leaves, picked and chopped fine
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
to taste, salt and pepper

Tempura Squash Blossoms:
8 pcs. squash blossoms
1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup iced soda water
to taste, salt and pepper

For eggplant: Slice eggplant into 1⁄4-inch slices and sprinkle with salt. Let drain.

In saucepan over low heat, cook onions, carrots, tomatoes, 3 Tbsp. sweet curry, garam masala, coriander, cumin, cardamom, saffron and salt and pepper to taste. Add white wine and reduce until liquid evaporates. Set aside to cool. Purée and pass through a mesh strainer. Set aside.

Rinse and dry eggplant. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. sweet curry powder to flour and mix well. Dredge eggplant in flour and sauté until golden brown on both sides. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a greased 9x9x2” pan layer the eggplant, tomato purée and Parmigiano Reggiano in several layers until all is used. Bake at 350°F for one hour.

For sauce: Mix together sauce ingredients. Set aside.

For squash blossoms: Mix together flour and cornstarch, and then add soda water to make batter. Dip squash blossoms in flour mixture and deep-fry for 20-40 seconds. This should be done at the last minute before serving.

To serve: Pour small amount of sauce in bottom of serving bowl or plate to coat. Place eggplant in center and squash blossom on top. This dish is best if eggplant is made one day ahead and refrigerated overnight. Reheat in low oven or microwave to serve.