I hated egglplants/brinjal/Aubergine. You know why ? because I never tasted it. As bad as I was, obstitate to not even taste it in all these years. And then it slowly vanished from our meals as mom soughted out we never going to eat it. But as I started my adventorous jounrney into cooking, I realised just how many things I had never tasted. It all seemed different now.
But it wasn't as simple. I might be intrigued by the different sizes,shapes and color of eggplants. But am I going to like the way it tastes was the bigger question. I bought them anyway. And there it started one after the another trying and retrying and still am. I have come to believe now with utmost confirmation that no one can do vegetables specially eggplants like the Indians.
If you have a kid, a partner who won't eat eggplant, try this.
Baghare Baigan ( Adapted recipe from Monsoon Spice)
Serves : 3-4 sane people
8-9 Indian baby brinjals
2 tbsp of oil
1/2 cup peanuts
1/2 cup freshly grated dry cocunut *
1 large medium onion ( Finely sliced)
1 tble sesame seeds
1 tbl coriander seeds
1 tbsp of jaggery
1 tsp Ginger (finely choppeD)
3-4 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
1 tsp Mustard Seeds/ Rai
1 tsp Kalonji/Nigella Seeds **
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds ( Methi)
2 Dry red chillies
2 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
1tsp mango ( amchur) powder
A Spring of Curry Leaves
A Pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Oil
*You could use pre-packed dessicated unsweeted cocunut...but don't tell me about it.
** Nigella seeds is not invented by Nigella Lawson. She can't have that much brains. What it is rather difficult to explain. Its also called onion seeds. It gives a great, distinct taste to the dish almost garlicy, oniony...I am no help sigh! It looks like sesame seeds but they are black.
Make a cross on the base on the brinjal, but make sure it doesn't go all the way through as the brinjals need to retain its shape.Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok/kadai and arrange the babies in a way that they do not overlap. We want it to be charred and cook all the way through.
(Note: Unless you want your kitchen to be all greasy with splutters of oil on over the stove, in good faith I suggest you cover the brinjals with a lid.)
Meanwhile, lets get going with the best part. The gravy... and before you get annoyed about roasting each spice individually let me assure you that you would cut it short and roast few things together but really its not as bad as it sounds. Use the same pan for roasting the different ingredients.
Firstly, in a tbsp of oil, let the onions go tender and almost light golden. Do not over cook the onions and do not be tempted to completely caramelize them. It is supposed to be something in between caramelized and soft. I know you want to hit me.So I took a picture!
Similarly, roast cocunut till lightly golden, peanuts, coriander seeds, sesame seeds separetely one after the other. Blend it all together along with jaggery using as little water to form a smooth paste.
Time for some tadka. Tadka is nothing but tempering when all sleeping beauties come to life. In a flat kadai, take 1 tbsp of oil and put your cumin seeds, muustard seeds, nigella seeds, curry leaves, hing and dry red chillies. When they start turing reddish, put the ginger and garlic. When the GG loses its rawness, add in the above prepared paste and let it simmer away for 10 minutes.
The paste should almost dry out and add in a cup of water ( add more or less water according to gravy required). Once it comes to a boil, again arrange your babies in the pan like this .
Let it cook for another 10 minutes or so. Do not stir and keep the flame on medium low.
And there you have turned a hater to embrassing love for the babies. Let them be embrassed. Be happy.