Eggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakoras and bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.
However, it is with great regret that I tell you that I did not always like eggplant. I totally hated it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.
I always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did the summer go.
For us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together,mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
- 4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
- 1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
- 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
- scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
- 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- Salt to taste
- Chopped Cilantro to garnish
In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7 seconds taking care they do not burn. (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)
Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.
Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.
Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)
Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro & serve.