Spiced Eggplant (from Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed )
Spike the eggplant with a fork or skewer and place under a preheated grill for about 15 minutes, turning frequently until the flesh feels soft. Allow to cool.
Scrape off the burnt skin with a knife. Chop the flesh. (I confess I went straight to the chopping but it's better their way).
Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the onion until just tender. Add the chopped ginger and garlic. Fry for 1-2 minutes then add the eggplant flesh.
Stir in the chilli powder, turmeric, coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped chilli, salt and tomatoes. Cook for 10-15 minutes until dry. Serve with buttered chapatis (I didn't have those).
Hyderabadi Eggplant (from Sameen Rushdie's Indian Cookery)
Garnish: 1/2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped.
Dry roasted and ground to a powder:
Measure out all the ingredients.
To dry-roast ingredients: mix them together and heat in a cast-iron pan. Over medium heat, turning down once it is sufficiently hot. Keep stirring and moving the ingredients around so they roast evenly. As soon as they release their aroma and turn a shade darker, take them off the heat. Grind.
Slice 1 onion into rings or half-rings. Blend the other one to a paste.
Wash the eggplants and cut them open, making four incisions lengthwise and taking care that they remain attached at the stem.
Mix all the powdered spices, roast and ground ingredients, the garlic, ginger, onion paste and some salt. Rub half this paste liberally into the cuts so the eggplants are well filled with the mixture.
Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the finely sliced onion rings and stir-fry until they are pale golden but no darker. Put in the whole spices - all the seeds - with the karri leaves and stir-fry.
Within a minute the seeds will begin to pop and turn a shade darker. Then add the remaining half of the spice mixture and stir-fry until it browns a little.
Carefully place the stuffed eggplants in this saucepan. Turn the heat down low, add 2 oz (50 ml.) water. Cover and cook gently, turning the eggplants over from time to time so they are done evenly.
You will probably need to continue adding a little water, about 2 fl. oz (50 ml.) at a time, to prevent the spices from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The art lies in not adding too much water at a time which would only serve to stew the vegetable.
Spoon some hot oil and spice mixture into the gashes to help brown the stuffing. It is inevitable that some of the filling will fall out.
When the eggplants appear to be tender, pour in the tamarind juice with a few extra drops of water if necessary and cook over an extremely low heat for a further 5 minutes.
Transfer the eggplants carefully to a serving dish and pour the thick spicy sauce over them. Garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro leaves. This dish is eaten both hot and at room temperature.
When I make this - I usually use a cast-iron casserole dish and put the whole thing on the table because it all falls apart anyway - but the flavour is out of this world!
Here's an eggplant raita to cool the palate during an Indian meal.
Spicy Eggplant in Yogurt (from Sameen Rushdie's Indian Cookery)
You need small eggplant if possible without seeds.
Lightly whisk the yogurt with a fork, mixing in the crushed garlic, red chilli powder and salt, then transfer to a shallow open dish, spreading it out evenly.
Cut the eggplant into slim long slices or slim rounds. In a large frying pan, heat enough oil to to shallow-fry the eggplant slices, bearing in mind that this vegetable tends to absorb oil.
Fry over a high heat until the slices are a deep golden brown on both sides and then lift out of the oil with a slotted spoon.
Using the small quantity of oil left in the pan, fry the remaining spice ingredients for no more than a minute over low to medium heat. Put the eggplant into the spicy mixture, turning it over and around for a couple of minutes, so that they are well covered in it.
Lay the spicy eggplant over the yogurt and pour the oil and spices from the pan over them.
Garnish with a few coriander/cilantro leaves and serve either immediately while still hot or a little later at room temperature.
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