Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sweet & Sour Aubergines

This recipe comes from a beautiful Indian cookbook we bought in England.  Madhur Jaffrey is probably the best known author of Indian recipes in the Western hemisphere, and we really, really love Indian food, but until that trip to England we owned none of her books.  What a relief to have that taken care of!

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

from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey

serves 4

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."

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