Saturday, October 6, 2012

Eggplant in a yogurt sauce

This eggplant dish is inspired by the yogurt based dishes from the northern state of Kashmir in India. Along with yogurt, which provides richness to dishes, Kashmiri cuisine is also known for its use of ginger and fennel. While Kashmiri food is very meat centric, this eggplant dish is a great representation of an almost authentic preparation.

I have used baby eggplants, which are available in India and in Indian stores in the US. But you could use the long Japanese eggplants or Italian eggplants, both of which have less seeds, cut into one and a half inch pieces.Typically the eggplants would be deep-fried and then cooked in the yogurt sauce, but I am one of those people who is averse to deep fried foods. Hence, I saute them in a little oil and finish the cooking in the sauce.

This dish is best eaten fresh and with jeera pulao (recipe below) or steamed rice.

Eggplant in a yogurt sauce

Baby eggplants

1 lb small eggplant
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground dried ginger
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground asafetida (hing)
1 cup low fat yogurt
½- 1 cup water
¾ cup chopped cilantro

1. Heat a large heavy bottomed non-stick skillet (large enough to fit all the eggplant in one layer) with 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil.
2. Add the eggplant and cook over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes till the eggplants are blistered.
3. Add the remaining ½ tablespoons canola oil and the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Now add the ground fennel, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, turmeric and asafetida and cook for 30 more seconds.
4. In the meantime, blend the yogurt with the cilantro and add to the eggplants. Cook covered over low heat till the eggplants are soft and have absorbed the flavor from the yogurt and cilantro sauce. Add water ¼ cup at a time if necessary, depending on how much sauce you desire.

Serves 4 as a Main course

Jeera Pulao
1 1/4 cup basmati rice rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoons ghee or canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  1. Heat a sauce pan with the ghee or canola oil. Add the cumin seeds and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  2. When the seeds begin to pop, add the rice with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 15 minutes, without lifting the lid at all.
  3. Once done, turn off the heat and let the rice remain covered for 10 minutes. Now remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.

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