A bold vegetable side with a kick of garlic chili paste and zesty ginger. Let the eggplant soak up the sauce and take on a whole new realm of flavor.
By Soma Rathore
I have a really simple recipe today. Chunks of eggplants are cooked with in a spicy garlic sauce with the fresh zesty aroma of ginger and green chili peppers. I will not call this a “traditional” recipe, even though there might be one with this name in some parts of India.
This came to life in my kitchen when I was left with no option but a large purple eggplant and a fresh bowl of chili garlic paste I had made to refill my stock of this essential condiment that I always need to have in my fridge. When one runs out of vegetables, creativity kicks in. So came this Lehsuni Baingan.
The meaty texture of this beautiful vegetable absorbs every bit of flavor it is cooked in. The reason that most eggplant dishes usually taste even better the next day as they soak up the sauce and the aroma.
The dish is best enjoyed with some rustic homemade flatbread, a bowl of seasoned yogurt and sirke wali pyaaz on the side.
- 1 large American eggplant (or 4 long Chinese eggplants), cubed or sliced in long strips
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 cup onion, sliced in half moons
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoons methi/fenugreek seeds
- 3 hot green chilli pepper, slit
- 1 small tomato, grated (about ¼ – ½ cup)
- 1 inch piece of ginger, julienned
- ¼ cup chilli garlic paste (or adjust to taste: the more you use the stronger the flavor of garlic and vice versa)
- 2 tablespoon coriander powder (grind coriander seeds fresh at home)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- salt to taste + more salt to add to the water when soaking eggplants
- fresh cilantro/coriander for garnish – optional
- Soak the eggplants in salted water. Drain and squeeze water out of them only when ready to put them in pan.
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan or wok. Add cumin and fenugreek seeds: when the seeds sizzle, add the sliced onions, slit green chili peppers, half of the julienned ginger. Cook at medium to high heat until the onions are softened. Now add the eggplants, salt and the turmeric. Cook at high heat until the oil coats the eggplants and then cook in medium to high heat until the eggplants are just started to cook and gets light brown at the edges, for about 3-4 minutes. Combine
- Combine about ½ cup of water water along with the chili garlic paste, coriander powder and the pureed/grated tomato. Add the mix to the eggplants. Cook uncovered at medium heat for a while until the masala or the spice mix coats the eggplants, maybe about 5-7 minutes. Then cover it tightly and cook in low to medium heat, until the smell of the raw garlic gone. The dish is going to be dry with the spice mix coating the eggplants.
- To make sure that the spices/garlic are cooked through, see that there will be oil released at the sides, sort of a fried look in the pan. If not, you have to keep cooking it for longer. You do not want the garlic to be raw.
- Once done, adjust salt and garnish with the rest of the julienned ginger, more peppers and fresh coriander/cilantro if you wish.
- Serve as a side, preferably with fresh made flatbreads.