Sunday, May 22, 2011

The marriage of eggplants with dill

Dill is a herb which is native to southern Russia, Western Africa and the Mediterranean region. It is mostly used in Scandinavian and German cuisine. It is fragrant and delicate and pairs well with fish like salmon and trout and makes an appearance in chicken salads and egg salads. It is also an ingredient in tzatziki - the Greek yogurt sauce. In India we use it with potatoes, eggplants, yellow moong dal cooked with opo squash (lauki) etc.

Since, dill does not have too many uses on a regular basis, I was trying to find as many uses as possible, before the feathery leaves wilted away in my refrigerator. My mom used to make an eggplant dish with dill which we had growing up with tortillas (chapati's). With the addition of fenugreek seeds (methi) which have an element of bitterness and tart tomatoes, it is a well balanced dish. The dill lends a fresh flavor to the dish without overpowering it. It makes a great side for a nice piece of grilled salmon as well.

Sauteed Eggplants with dill and tomatoes 

2 eggplants, cut into 1 inch cubes, about 4 cups
2 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Heat a large skillet with canola oil over medium heat. Add the fenugreek seeds and saute for a few seconds till they turn light brown - if they turn dark brown or black, they will turn extremely bitter. Add the eggplant and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the turmeric powder, cayenne and salt and mix well. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and once again cover and cook till the tomatoes and the eggplants have softened. Add the chopped dill. Mix and serve with chapati's or pita bread.

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