Sweet Indian Eggplant and How to Have a Dinner Conversation

Hello all!
Before we get to the eggplant, let’s discuss dinner conversations. With all the #$%^&@ up %^$&going on in the world, our country, and even my town with racism and slander abounding, the only silver lining I can see is that we can use it for fodder for dinner chats with each other. Only through respectful discourse can we learn and grow. Yes, Peggy, I said “grow”!
After you read Cheri Torres’ tips on how to start the chatter, make my tasty Indian dish to eat while you are talking. But be careful not to choke.
Priming the Family for Great Dinner Conversations

Between instant messaging and dining by screen light, we are losing the art of conversation. At the end of a long day, talking over dinner feels like work. Here’s a way to make dinner conversations as simple and enjoyable as the meals you’re preparing.

First, choose a topic that has interest and inspires creative thinking. Then create a positive frame for it. For example, a national discussion topic is the achievement gap. Here’s how you might frame that for the family:

When some of the flowers in our garden aren’t blooming, we don’t try to change the flowers, we change their environment: nutrients, water, sun. Not all children bloom in our schools. Instead of trying to change them, we can change their environment.

Then, ask questions and be the last to answer them.  Ask questions that inspire curiosity and creative thinking; invite everyone to be part of the solution. For example:

  1. What are your teachers doing to help every student bloom?
  2. When are you most alive and excited about learning? Tell me about a specific time; what did you value about yourself, other students, and your teacher?
  3. How can students help each other bloom? What strengths do you have that would help others?
  4. What three wishes do you have to make schools a place where everyone blooms?

Here are some additional topics and reframes to get you started:

  • Anyone can come up with answers, but the sign of genius is asking great questions.
    • What questions did you ask today?
    • What are you most curious about?
    • What disruptive questions might change the way we think about _______.
  • Innovative solutions to some of our climate challenges are being discovered or developed daily, like fungi that decompose plastic and 3-D on-site building printing.
    • What do we do in our daily living that contributes negatively to climate change?
    • What are some ways we could decrease our negative impact right now?
    • What technology innovation might allow us to keep doing what we’re doing and not have a negative impact?
  • There are no problems in the world we cannot solve!
    • If you could solve one problem in the world, what would you solve?
    • What would be the outcome: how would you know you were successful?
    • What are we already doing and what else might we do to achieve that?

Tonight, inspire a family dinner conversation. Make room for everyone’s voice, even young ones. Keep asking questions and creating space for the art of conversation to grow.

Cheri Torres is an author and speaker cheritorres.com. You can download a free Conversation Toolkit and learn more sparking great conversations at ConversationsWorthHaving.today.

Anybody can cook a good meal if they plan and have the right ingredients at the ready. Lucky for me, I do, thanks to my friend Priya. I am currently on an Indian kick now that I have this tasty new Indian spice combo, dhansak masala, that Priya gifted me.  If you cannot find this delicious masala, just use garam masala which is a spice mixture readily available in Indian markets.
I bought some eggplants at a farmer’s market in Maryland when I was there dropping my daughter off at college this past weekend. I cooked this to drown my sorrows. Damn, I miss that girl. Enjoy!
Sweet Indian Eggplant:
3 medium sized Japanese eggplants, about 8 cups chopped
1 large onion
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, pureed
2 Tbs ghee or butter
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
2 tsp dhansak masala or garam masala spice mixture
In a small bowl, add in the raisins and cover with water. Set aside.
In a large pot over low flame, heat up the ghee.
Add in the chopped onions and saute until translucent, about 15 minutes.
Add in the minced garlic and the pureed ginger and saute for about 5 more minutes.
Add in the masala and stir to combine. If it gets dried out, add a few Tbs of water and continue sauteeing for 2 minutes.
Add in the eggplant,  1/4 cup of water and the salt. Stir and cover for 10 minutes.
Take the cover off, add the soaked raisins and stir eggplant until tender, a few more minutes.
Adjust seasonings.
Serve with rice or by itself.

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