Recipe: A spicy take on baby eggplant
THIS recipe for baby eggplant with tomato and masala spices is a taste sensation and the masala spice flavours are even better a few days later.
I made this dish based on the over-abundance of baby eggplants on my tree. The panch phoran is a Bengali whole spice mix used to provide a base flavouring to many Indian recipes.
The flavours drift from one to another with each bite, giving the spices a chance to surprisingly show their unique flavour rather than disappearing in a blur of spices ground together.
You can buy this spice blend ready made at selected spice stores or make up your own by simply mixing one tablespoon each of fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds.
Baby eggplant with tomato and masala spices:
Masala spice - 1 tbs chilli powder 2 tbs ground coriander 1 tbs ground cumin 1 tsp garam masala Good pinch of salt 1 tbs panch phoran, crushed.
Eggplant masala - 3 tbs olive oil 10 long baby eggplants 3 tbs masala spice mix ½ tsp extra panch phoran 3 green chillies, cut in half 2 onions, finely chopped 1 tsp ground coriander ½ tsp turmeric 2 tins diced peeled tomatoes or 5 fresh tomatoes blended Juice of 1 lemon 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and cut into julienne strips.
Combine all the masala spices and store in a jar.
Cut the eggplants lengthways in half, keeping them intact at the stalk and rub them with the masala spice so that they are nicely covered inside.
Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a large frypan that will hold all of the eggplant. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes all up or until they are almost cooked. Remove the eggplant and set aside.
Add to the pan the panch phoran, and cook until they start to pop, then add the chillies, diced onions and spices and cook for 7-8 minutes until the onions have softened.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes or until the oil separates from the sauce.
Add the eggplants and cook for a further 20 minutes until the eggplants have cooked through. You may need to add a little water to the sauce if it becomes too thick.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with the lemon juice and fresh coriander scattered over the top.
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