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Bengali Baby Eggplant Curry

a close up of a bowl of food

Photo: Carolina Ayala / Contributor

At the northeast corner of the back row at the Urban Harvest Farmer’s Market is a farmstand that always has crisp and hyper-fresh produce. Ely, the Congolese farmer who runs Sustainable Vegetable Garden welcomes me with a warm bright smile every Saturday. His set up is simple but I can tell just by looking at his vibrant green produce, be it kale, okra, or Malabar spinach, he farms with a lot of care. When I ask him, he says very humbly, “I don’t do much. I just take care of the soil the best I can, and it gives back plenty!” I know from personal experience how hard gardening, forget farming is, so I know he does a lot. Whether I buy two or twenty things, he always flashes his gratitude with a grin. I’ve learnt a thing or two about vegetables native to Africa from him. 

Food is intrinsic to all our lives and the immigrant exchange of food and artistic culture is one of the things I love the most about living in America, particularly in Houston, which is so rich in diversity. Eggplants grown by a farmer from Congo in a curry made with poppy seeds native to Bengal, India comes together here in Houston, Texas. The baby eggplants Ely has on his table are dark purple with a heavy firmness that will hold their shape when cooked. They are ready to be cooked in an African stew or a Bengali curry. Or make a classic Italian caponata with them. Ely tells me that he will have those eggplants for a while, so go grab them while you can. I’ll be buying them every week! 

Read More | Recipe: India1948