Whenever there's eggplant at home, we usually cook baingan bharta (roasted eggplant curry). It's great. It soaks up all the flavours added to it and the roasted eggplant imparts a delicious smoky flavour too. But, you know you've had too much of something when it starts losing flavour the moment you see it cooking... (yep, dire times).
So, time for a NEW RECIPE TESTING!
This is the love child of a few different brinjal curries I found online, healthified (that's totally a word right? Just googled it, it's actually on Wiktionary, so it's not something I just made up!).
Eggplant? Aubergine? Brinjal?
Essentially they're all the same family of nightshade. "Eggplant" is how it's referred to in Australian and American English. Whereas British English uses the word "Aubergine". In South East Asia, South Africa and India it's called "Brinjal". The more you know :D
Grilled Eggplant Curry
So, the recipe testing went underway and the recipe called for frying small eggplants. All I had were these beauties so I decided to make thick slices of eggplant and fry it in my tiny wok/ kadai.
That slowly proved to be a test of patience as it was taking FAR too long. It was a job for SUPER GRILL. Yep, grilled it instead with a light brushing of coconut oil. I LOVE the taste of toasted coconut, in case you were wondering. If you're not as much of a fan, butter or vegetable oil will do the trick too.*
While that was sizzlin, it was time for the bomb tomato gravy. It starts as most Indian dishes do - with the aromatics: ginger, garlic and onions and, for added oomph, with the three spices: turmeric powder, chilli powder and coriander powder. Then, ending with tempering for more flavours, tamarind for a sour bite and sugar to balance everything out and bring out the chilli's heat.
NOT to worry, it's only a LITTLE bit of *spicy*. I LOVE my spices, but I can't handle the chilli's heat. Yes, I'm a wuss when it comes to chilli.
The flavours compliment each other best with the heat of chilli. So, the sugar not only plays up the spices but it amplifies the heat without us needing to go ham on the chilli powder. See? Not so spicy!
*BONUS: For added flavour, partially grill the eggplants then, once you've made the gravy, dunk them in the curry and finish grilling. YOU'RE WELCOME!
Cast Iron Grill
Now you know how it all works, time to test it out!!
On a cast iron grill, brush coconut oil and grill eggplants, grilling each slice on each side.
Making the Tomato Curry
In a wok, on medium heat, heat oil and saute ginger, garlic and onion till lightly browned, Add chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder and saute another 2-3 minutes till the raw smell goes. Add de-seeded tomatoes and grated coconut, mix well. Turn heat to low, add 1/4 cup water, cover wok and cook tomatoes till soft.
Pour everything into blender, and blend into a smooth puree.
In the wok, on high heat, heat oil. Once hot, reduce heat to medium-low and splutter mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Add urad dal, dry red chilli and curry leaves and mix.
To this tempering, add the blended tomato and 1/2 cup water. Add the tamarind pulp juice, salt and jaggery. Add just enough water for a slightly watery curry (you'll need to cook the eggplants in this curry so some water will evaporate).
On low flame, add eggplants into the curry, cover and cook another 5 minutes. Remove from flame and serve :)
*OPTIONAL for added taste, grill eggplants once more with a dab of the tomato curry before step 5, adding the eggplants into the curry.*
How did you like the flavour? Double grill it or is it enough to just grill it once?
Ayurveda Dosha Suitability:
However, for all doshas, nightshades should be had in moderation, i.e., tomatoes and eggplants.They contain nicotine and are heating in nature which inhibits effective digestion. So, when cooking, choose ripest vegetables and, when cooking with tomatoes, de-seed them first. Cooking with cumin, turmeric, black pepper and mustard seeds (according to your particular constitution) can minimise the level of toxicity.