Hooray! It’s Saturday, almost time for another installment of Nupur’s eggceptional emumeration of The A-Z of Indian Vegetables. I can’t wait to see what will be featured over at One Hot Stove come Sunday or Monday.
Thanks again, Nupur, for the chance to play along!
Back when I was about 12 years old, the American Egg Board introduced a new ad campaign featuring the slogan “The Incredible Edible Egg ™”. The slogan was paired with a catchy little tune and the resulting four-word jingle remains in my head to this day — pretty successful marketing to last that long!
For my entry to Nupur’s Letter “E”, I made an obvious choice. I make no excuse for being predictable however, as this veggie is none other than the enticing and unequaled… incredible edible eggplant!
Known in various languages as aubergine, baingan, brinjal, berenjena, daimaru nasu, makhua, melanzana, qie zi, terong, and many other names*, I was fascinated to learn that the eggplant is native to India*. You’d think I would have known that somehow, with endless exquisite eggplant edibles created and perfected by so many excellent Indian bloggers.
I have always been an eggplant fan, and now that I have found the sweet and tender asian varieties, I find myself indulging in eggplant esctasy every chance I get. Healthy and delicious, there are innumerable ways you can enjoy the enchanting eggplant:
Try Menu Today’s yummy Tamilian-style Stuffed Brinjals
Giniann’s spicy Brinjal Theeyal
For for wedding days or any day, Sailu’s Vankaya Bataani Kura
Indosungod’s rich and tangy Mor Kozhambu or
yummy brinjal curry with spinach and brussels sprouts
yes, that says brussels sprouts!
With tasty menthi podi from Swapna’s Kitchen
Mix it up into Jasu’s brinjal chutney
In the mood for something timeless?
Try your eggplant elegantly sliced and spiced from Meena’s Hooked on Heat
Use some in Mrs. Marthi’s classic sambhar
Many recipies for eggplant call for peanuts and/or coconut, two things I love but am trying, at the moment, to cut back on. I wanted to make a stuffing or gravy that had some substance — ie not made only of spices or vegetables — without draining my calorie bank account. The other day I found a bag of frozen jackfruit seeds at the store. They are fairly low in fat and calories, so I decided to give them a try. While not quite the robust nutty dish you get with peanuts, it came out pretty well! I used small purple eggplants, left whole and slit all around, roasted in ghee fragrant with garlic and ginger, and finished up in a thick gravy. I would also like to try this with the longer japanese-type eggplants, cut in chunks.
Eggplant (Brinjal) with Jackfruit Seed Gravy
For the eggplant:
6-8 small purple eggplants/brinjals/aubergines
2 tsp oil or ghee
2 TB fresh garlic, minced
1 TB fresh ginger, minced
Wash the eggplant and make slits all around, from top down, leaving the stem intact.
Heat the oil or ghee in a pan large enough to hold the eggplants in a single layer. When hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant. Add the slit eggplants, turn heat to medium-low, and cover the pan.
Roast the eggplants about 20 minutes, turning from time to time, until they begin to spread apart and the skin is well colored. They should be about half cooked.
With a fork, remove eggplants from the pan and hold aside. Don’t wash the pan.
For the paste:
1/2 c frozen jackfruit seeds, thawed
1 tsp oil or ghee
1 big red onion, chopped
2 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1 small piece tamarind, soaked in 1/2 c hot water, pulp extracted
Dry-roast the jackfruit seeds in an iron or non-stick pan until well browned (I used a spray of Pam to help them brown). When cool enough, grind to a powder and set aside.
In the eggplant-roasting pan, heat another teaspoon of oil or ghee and fry the chopped onion until soft and beginning to brown. Scrape the pan out well, removing all the bits of ginger and garlic as well as the onion.
When cool enough, grind this to a paste with the powdered jackfruit seeds, cumin-coriander, chili, and turmeric powders, about 1/4 c of the tamarind pulp and the salt. Set aside.
For the gravy:
1 tsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp chana dal
2 tsp urad dal
1 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves
1 big or (2-3 small) green chile, slit
3/4 c chopped fresh tomatoes (or 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes)
1 TB jaggery, powdered
1 TB Vineela’s magic vangi bhath masala
salt to taste
In a deep frying pan or saute pan, heat the oil or ghee and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add chana dal, urad dal and cumin seeds.
When the dals change begin to change color, add curry leaves and the green
chile(s). Fry a minute longer, then add the onion paste and cook about 10 minutes over medium heat.
Add the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has cooked off and the mixture starts sticking to the pan.
Add jaggery and vangi bhath masala and cook 5 minutes further, stirring.
Add 1/2 – 3/4 c water, stir well and bring to a boil. Add the roasted eggplant, pressing down a little on them with the back of a spoon to get the gravy in and around the eggplant as much as possible.
Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat about 20 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.
Taste for salt before serving.
The gravy was thick and rich-tasting, with a faint nutty flavor from the jackfruit seeds and extra dal in the tempering, and a hint of coconut from the vangi bhath masala. I would recommend using ghee rather than oil for this dish. Ghee lends rich, mellow note to the flavor of eggplant that oil simply can’t match. Four teaspoons might seem like alot; considering I didn’t use peanuts, I felt it was a worthwhile addition.
Tasted even better the next day.
There you have it!
Earthy yet exotic, enchanting and enthralling cooks the world over, elevating essential everyday meals to extraordinary ecstasy, simply exquisite ~~