Baigun Bhaja

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes approx. (or less)

When I first got to the US, my then-roommate (who is Bengali) used to make these wonderful pan-fried eggplant things. I never quite got around to asking her how she did it, but this is what I do. See below for the non-fat version.

You need: 1 large eggplant; 1/4 cup oil; 1/4 tsp each of salt, red chili powder, and turmeric (haldi); oil spray

How to: Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Mix the spices with enough oil to make a not-too-thick paste – it should be thin enough to spread easily over the eggplant. Lightly brush each slice on both sides with the mixture (you can brush them again while cooking). Spray the pan, drop in a slice (or more, depending on the size of your pan), and fry till cooked. For me, this means till soft, because I hate eggplant that’s even slightly raw. You may need to spray the pan now and again while cooking. If you have a gas stove, make sure to spray away from the fire!

Place the eggplant on a plate with paper towels to absorb some of the oil.

Tastes great with a dollop of yogurt.

Non-fat version: Use water instead of oil to make the turmeric/cayenne paste. Brush on to the eggplant slices. Spray very lightly with oil and grill for 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is cooked (it will go faintly transluscent).