June 01, 2006

Some Like It Hot! (Creamed Eggplant)

Some like it hot. Good thing, too, because sometimes, at the end of a long day when one is a little bit tired but relentlessly pushing on with the new recipe anyway, one forgets that, when halving a recipe the spices should also be halved.

Ordinarily, I probably wouldn't have even noticed that the spices were a little feisty, since I like a good bit more seasoning in my food than many folks. This, however, was an Indian recipe by way of Madhur Jaffrey, and didn't really start life as a particularly subtle dish.

As it turned out, I wouldn't make it any other way. Yes, it's a zippy little number, but that's what raita is for, yes? I did add a smidge more cream than the recipe called for, to temper the additional spice, but other than that it worked out perfectly. It was fun to make, too, with the charring of the eggplant, and the tearing away of the blackened skin in leathery chunks. In deference to my occasionally-problematic right hand, I used my mini-prep to chop the onions and garlic, and I have to say that I was impressed at what a good job it did - without producing ragged mush, as some food processors are wont to do. I would probably still hand-chop for something that wasn't going to be cooked down (such as a salsa fresca) but this worked admirably on a day when I couldn't actually hold a proper knife in my hand.

Creamed Eggplant (India)
Adapted from World of the East Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped moderately finely
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek seed
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seed
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
1/4 cup half-and-half cream
cilantro to garnish

Line a sided-pan with tin-foil, and poke the eggplant with a fork - several times on each side. Char the entire eggplant under a broiler, until the skin is completely withered and black, and the flesh is soft. Transfer the eggplant to a clean sink and strip the skin away, carefully, under running cool water so that you don't burn yourself. Chop the flesh of the eggplant roughly and set aside.

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the fenugreek and fennel and let it become aromatic before adding the onions and garlic. Stir and fry the onions until lightly golden. Then, add the tomato sauce and the rest of the spices, and stir and fry again until mixture is a little dry. Add the chopped eggplant, ginger, and salt. Stir and fry again until everything is well integrated (about five minutes), and then add the cream. Stir the cream through, keeping on the heat just long enough to warm it all nicely. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 4 as a side-dish

Makes a surprisingly tasty appetizer when rolled up in a tortilla and sliced into pinwheels!

1 comment:

Randi said...

re your note: I'm from the West Coast too( California) so I know what you mean. Additionally, it's so freaking humid here.