Difficult as it is for baingan (aubergine/eggplant) lovers to believe, there are many out there with an aversion to this beautiful vegetable. I have for you today the dish that will challenge this very aversion. It has the potential to effect conversion. Not only does TH eat baingan now, he counts this dish amongst his favourites, especially when served with another of his favourites – the Hyderabadi Qabooli (here is Bee and Jai’s version), a layered pulao of rice and split chickpeas cooked with garlic and yoghurt.
This is a very exotic looking dish from Uttar Pradesh that traces its origins to the milk and yoghurt favouring cuisine of Afghanistan where it still is on the menu of all restaurants serving local food. Shallow fried eggplant served in a yoghurt sauce flavoured with garlic and garnished with browned onions – how can you go wrong? Don’t the Greeks and Turks have something similar? Ah, it is such a fabulous pairing of flavours. And for once, I don’t miss the lal mirch (red chilli).
I tried it for the first time many years ago from my favourite cook book A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffery. It is a beautiful book that introduces the regional cuisines of India in all their authenticity and charm. I wasn’t aware of Madhur’s stature when I bought the book (in mid 80s); I judged it by checking the Kashmiri section – and it featured haak in its utter simplicity, I was sure all the other regions must have received the same authentic treatment. Every recipe I have tried from this book has turned out to be a family favourite, to be made again and again.
Baigan ki Boorani
(Eggplant in a Yoghurt Sauce)
from Madhur Jaffery’s A Taste of India
1 large eggplant (about 500 gm or1 lb)
2 T coriander powder
1 ½ t turmeric
9 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
2 medium onions, halved and sliced crosswise into half rings
1 C plain yoghurt
¾ C oil (I use ¼ C)
- Wash and slice the eggplant into 1cm thick rounds. In a small bowl combine the coriander powder, turmeric, mashed garlic (reserving one clove), ¼ t salt with a little water to form a thick paste.
- In another bowl, beat the yoghurt. Add ¼ t of salt, the remaining crushed clove of garlic, and stir. Keep refrigerated.
- Deep fry the onions in hot oil till dark brown and almost crisp. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and spread on kitchen towels.
- Using the same oil, shallow fry the eggplant slices in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. Use a spoonful of oil at a time. The trick to using less oil for frying eggplant is to, first, have the eggplant at room temperature. Second, I try to dab a little oil on the slices before I put them into the pan; this ensures there are no ‘dry’ spots on the eggplant. If you are in a rush, or making a large batch, you may want to use more oil and finish the job faster. Fry the eggplant slices on both sides till nicely browned and cooked through. If you are a no-fat fanatic, you could even grill the eggplant :) . Sprinkle the slices with a little salt and arrange them in a single layer in a shallow dish or plate.
- Fry the coriander seed paste in a tablespoon of oil for 2 minutes, till the garlic is properly fried. The paste will become dry. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water, stir, and take off the heat.
- Just before serving, spoon the coriander mix over the eggplant slices, and spread it to cover them properly. Now cover the slices with the garlic flavoured yoghurt. Generously sprinkle with the browned onions. Serve at room temperature.This is my entry (and it’s late…, sorry) for JFI: Eggplant. Jihva for Ingredients (JFI) is the brainchild of Indira (Mahanandi) and is being guest hosted this time by Sangeeta (Ghar ka Khana).