No, this is not turning in to a food blog, I would rather leave it to the ones that do it way better and are more passionate and talented at it.
But the onset of spring has a way of getting me more in to cooking and this is true for both me and *A*
This eggplant chutney/dip was a joint effort between me and *A*. We purchased this rather large eggplant over the weekend. *A* used half of it (cut lengthwise) for eggplant made her way, and we contemplated the fate of the other half. The brilliant one of the two that she is, she came up with an idea to make a eggplant chutney. She had a recipe in her head, but we decided to go back to one of our other Marathi cookbooks which in addition to the cuisine of Maharashtra in India, also has recipes from other parts of India. To truly get an idea of the diversity of cuisine in India, you should check out Asha’s blog especially this great post where they are focusing on regional cuisine. Fascinating stuff!
So we found the recipe and *A* as she often does decided we would modify it. For the longest time, I just hated eating eggplant, maybe I had memories of it not made right and eating it as a kid was not fun. And that stayed with me until one day she slipped an eggplant dish in to my lunch and I had no idea and I loved it! But this dish just turned out so good and I was reminded of how much I have missed as a kid and during my younger days when I used to be a picky eater.
While this is technically a chutney it can also be used as many veggie dish or even as a dip for chips and on other hors devours.
Enough of my ramble..
Take a medium sized eggplant, slice it down the middle (we used half of one that was about 6 -7 inches long) brush either side with some cooking oil and stick it in an oven at 375 deg for about 30 minutes. When you pull the eggplant out at the end of this it and it should be soft and cooked. Use a spoon to scoop it all out away from the skin in a bowl. I used a spoon to make sure it was mixed well as an even mass or you could mash it too.
Add about half a cup of ground peanuts and table spoon of jaggery (unrefined sugar). You should be able to find this at any Indian grocery store. Being unrefined sugar means it still has mineral salts and has a distinct flavor. If you wanted you could substitute sugar instead of jaggery.
Squeeze juice from about half a lime in to the mashed up eggplant.
Add a finely chopped tomato along with some chopped cilantro.
Heat up some oil (you don’t need a lot, maybe a 2-3 tablespoons) in small pan. Add half a tablespoon of mustard seeds. As they start popping add 3-4 chopped green chilies to the oil and then a couple of pinches of hing (Asafoetida). This is optional if you don’t have it but it imparts a subtle flavor to the dish. Toss this oil with all the ingredients in to the eggplant. Add salt to taste
Mix it all well garnish with some chopped cilantro and you are done.
I don’t think I can truly describe how much I loved this dish. The flavors of the eggplant which was slightly smoky due to the burnt skin from the oven (might even taste better if you grilled the eggplant on a charcoal grill), the taste of the ground peanuts, the heat from the chilies, the sweet flavor of the jaggery and tanginess of the lime and the tomato all came together in a very impressive manner.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007