Sunday, February 28, 2010

Achari Baingan (Eggplant in Pickling Spices)

By this point, it will be perfectly clear to anyone reading this blog that we really like Indian cuisine, and we are fortunate in having several excellent Indian groceries within 15 minutes of our kitchen. In combination with a visit to a nearby, all-vegetarian South Indian restaurant, food shopping is basically one of my ideas of A Perfect Date, and on a recent visit, we picked up - among other things - some panch phoron and a bunch of teensy-weensy, adorable widdle baby eggplants.

As luck would have it, we had just eaten Achari Baingan for lunch, and it was so good that the fate of those precious purple darlings was sealed; a cursory web search led to me to a basic recipe, which I adapted slightly to make things a bit more interesting. It was very easy, and relatively fast to make, but best of all, it was every bit as good as what we'd had at the restaurant. We rounded things out with saffron rice, onion naan, and saag tofu paneer for an outrageously delicious and filling meal. So: my advice to you is run, don't walk, to your nearest Indian market, pick up what's necessary, and get busy cooking this tout de suite. I promise you'll thank me later!

Achari Baingan (Eggplant in Pickling Spices)
~ 1.5 tbsp. mustard oil
~ 1/2 tsp. hot chili oil
~ 4 tsp. panch phoron
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 1 tbsp, ginger, grated
~ 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 4 large tomatoes, chopped (or 1 14 oz. can diced, drained)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, fenugreek powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each coriander, asafoetida
~ 10-12 baby eggplants, cut into 6 cubes each (or 1 large one, cut into 2" cubes)
~ 4 scallions, thinly sliced

~ In a large, deep skillet or wok, heat mustard oil almost to the smoking point.
~ Add the panch phoron and stir; when the seeds change color, add the onion and sauté onion until light brown.
~ Stir in the ginger and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
~ Add the tomatoes, salt, coriander, asafoetida and fenugreek. Lower heat to medium, cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick; the tomatoes should be soft and pulpy.
~ Add the chopped eggplant and combine thoroughly. Replace the cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until the eggplant is soft.
~ Stir in the scallions and cook another minute or two, then serve hot with naan bread and/or steamed rice.

1 comment:

  1. Mustard Oil!!!!
    Do you make your own?
    This sounds wonderful. I could eat Indian food all day every day - we had it 4 nights in a row last week.