Of late I am little inclined towards this shiny purple vegetable called eggplant which caught my fascination towards it and it has finally dawned upon me when I realize that this is the most oft-repeated veggie in my kitchen.
This may streams from the fact that eggplants are perhaps the most versatile veggie in the market and one can cook it in endless possible ways. You can really go creative with it. Eggplants can be braised, fried, curried, roasted, mashed, baked and can absorb the range of flavours and can accommodate any sort of spices, and the end results are bound to be good.
When ever I spotted these purplish eggplants in the farmer’s market, I always tempt to pick them up and each time I end up cooking it in different ways. Last weekend when I brought these beauties home, I was in mood for something spicy (not over spicy) and tangy with a hint of sweetness to it.
Having stayed in the southern part of the country for long, I get myself tuned to the southern spices and their way of cooking which is quiet different from ours. I decided to cook these eggplants in southern style aka dakshini style as we call it here in India. and very carefully chose the spices from my spice rack.
First, I didn’t want to curried the eggplants but want to do little different, so I simply braised it in hot oil. Next to give it a southern touch I picked the peanuts and chana dal from the spice rack, which after roasted gives a nice aroma typical of any southern cooking, coriander seeds which is again a very common spice used in the cooking here and the curry leaves.
Now, this is the first time I roasted the curry leaves and then grind it into fine powder and if you are like me then you should go for it at least once. Roasted and powdered curry leaves is highly fragrant and imparts an amazing flavour to the dish. No southern dish is complete without red chillies, I chose the bydagi mirchi, a kind of red chilli native to Karnataka, you can go for the milder ones also. Cloves and cinnamon to give a richness to the dish. And finally a generous shower of sweet and tangy flavoured tamarind sauce which perfectly completes the dish.
Eggplants (small and round): 8-10
Ginger paste : 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil : 2-3 tbp
Ground spice mix / southern India spice mix:
Chana dal / split chickpeas : 1 tbsp
Peanuts : 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds : 2 tsp
Dry red chillies : 2-3
Curry leaves : 10-12
Cinnamon : 1″stick
Tamarind pulp : 2-3 tbsp
Jaggery / molasses (crushed): 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Curry leaves : few
Few toasted sesame seeds
A twig of fresh cilantro leaves
A spoonful of yogurt
Wash the baby eggplants and slit them perpendicularly (make a +) in the center from the base of each eggplant to its stem, keep the stalk intact. Soak the eggplants in salt water for few minutes to retain its deep purple color. Remove from the water and pat them dry.
On a non-stick pan heat a tablespoon of oil up to the smoking point and add the eggplants in it.
Fry the eggplants on medium heat, turning the sides for 15 – 20 minutes, till it becomes evenly browned on all sides.
Meanwhile roast the ingredients listed under ground spice mix separately and grind them together to a fine powder.
In a separate pan heat some oil and temper it with mustard seeds and curry leaves, add the tamarind pulp diluted in water, mix it and then add the crushed jaggery. Stir till the jaggery dissolved completely and is well incorporated with the tamarind. Adjust the salt and tamarind sauce is ready.
Once the eggplants are fried and evenly browned, take them out with a slotted spoon and in the same oil (if need heat little oil) fry the ginger paste till its rawness disappear and then add the ground spice mix. Saute for a while and then add the braised eggplants. Mix thoroughly, add the tamarind sauce, cover with a heavy lid and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes till the eggplants become tender.
Garnish with toasted sesame seeds, a twig of fresh cilantro and yogurt.
Serve the hot, spicy and tangy braised eggplants in tamarind sauce with any rice dishes or any flat breads.
Verdict: Eggplants were perfectly braised and cooked to the core, it was juicy, has the required spiciness, and with a hint of sweetness coming from the tangy tamarind sauce and taste too good. As I was enjoying the meaty eggplants, soaking the flavours and relishing the taste I realized that this is something I can call as my creation or my innovation, without going by the books and the joy of appreciation which I received from my family was quiet overwhelming.
Try this and you will definitely love it.
and sending this to Miz Helen’s full plate Thursday
With this I am taking a blogging break for one week, till then stay tuned and enjoy
If you like this recipe then please consider sharing it and do not forget to send me your feedbacks.