When I first went looking for eggplant in the index, it wasn't there. Muttering, "What kind of Indian cookbook is this?" I was about to put it back on the shelf, when, in a flash of forehead-slapping inspiration, I checked under A for aubergine. The long, narrow Asian eggplants we're growing are perfect for this dish.
|'Orient Express' and 'Pingtung Long' eggplants|
SWEET & SOUR AUBERGINES
from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey
4 purple baby aubergines (about 1 1/4 lb)
2 Tablespoons chickpea flour (cornmeal can be substituted)
1 teaspoon peeled and very finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Cut the aubergines lengthwise into quarters, holding them together by not cutting through the stem end. Leave to soak in a bowl o water for 30 minutes.
Put the chickpea flour in a small, cast-iron frying pan. Stir over a medium heat until it is a shade darker. Transfer to a small bowl. Add the ginger, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, fresh coriander and 4 Tablespoons water. Stir to make a paste.
Drain the aubergines and dry them with kitchen paper. Rub the spice mixture on all the cut surfaces.
Put the oil in a medium frying pan and set over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the aubergines and brown them lightly on all sides. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt over the top and add 4 Tablespoons water. Bring to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat and cook gently for 25 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, combine 4 Tablespoons water with the sugar and lemon juice. Pour this over the aubergines when they are tender. Continue cooking over a medium-high heat, turning them gently once, until you have a thick sauce at the bottom, about 2-3 minutes.
Serving suggestions from Ms. Jaffrey: "This very gratifying dish may be served as a main course, along with a green vegetable, some dal, rice and a yoghurt relish. It would also go well with hearty chicken and lamb curries."