Khatta Baingan

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes

Cooking time: 20-30 minutes

This is eggplant cooked in tamarind. I have a recipe for baghara baingan that looks promising, but no little eggplants to try it out on. So this is something I evolved because I love the taste of tamarind with eggplant. Plus, it’s very simple.

You need: two cups cubed eggplant (big ones, Japanese, doesn’t matter); 1 cup diced tomato; 1 cup diced onion; 1 tbsp tamarind paste; to taste: salt, cumin powder, coriander powder – I used freshly ground spices and they smelt heavenly!

How to: Add a cup of water to the tamarind paste and mix well until blended. Put 2 tbsp oil in a pan and saute the onions. Add the tomatoes and stir; add the eggplant right away and stir as well. Add the tamarind water, salt and spices. Stir very well (be gentle) and cover. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes or till eggplant is done (it will be soft and won’t taste raw). If you added too much water, don’t stir too often, and leave it uncovered for a few minutes with the heat on so the water boils away.

Grilled vegetables #1 (Oven-grilled vegetables)

Also try Grilled Vegetables #2 and Vegetarian Barbeque

Preparation time: 15 minutes + 1 hour for marination

Cooking time: 30 minutes

We have a small grill, but the OH uses it for meat, so I cook my veggies in the oven. So they’re not really grilled grilled, but they turn out very well, actually. (Edit: this was prior to our acquiring two grills).

Yesterday, I grilled a large eggplant, two red bell peppers, and a zucchini, so that’s what this recipe is for. Yellow squash also works well. One day I’m going to experiment with onions, tomatoes, and other vegetable kabab ingredients, and that will be grilled vegetables #2, but for now:

Marinade #1:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 1/2 cup olive oil; 1 tsp black pepper; 3/4 tbsp crushed red pepper (red chili flakes); a good shake of basil and oregano; salt to taste

Whisk together in a bowl.

Marinade #2:

This is the marinade/basting sauce the OH uses for his steaks and other meatly grillables, but I think it would work well with veggies also. It’s super-spicy.

1/2 cup of barbecue sauce; 1/3 cup red wine vinegar; 2 tbsp soy sauce; 1/4 cup vegetable oil; 2 heaped tbsp of minced garlic; 1 habanero pepper (or six Thai peppers), salt if needed.

Blend in a food processor.

How to:

Cut the eggplant into cubes, deseed the pepper and cut it into 1/2″ wide strips, and cut the zucchini into sticks about 1/2″ wide and 2″ long.

Whichever marinade you’re using, place the eggplant in an oven-proof bowl and pour some of it evenly over the eggplant. Mix gently, but well. Cover and set aside.

Marinate the other vegetables similarly, but separately (goes back to the untrustworthy and slimy zucchini). Leave them be for about an hour. Take them out and place on foil or a greased cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Put the vegetables in, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, give the eggplant a stir and brush some marinade over the other vegetables.

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).

Baingan bharta

Bharta

Mashed eggplant, but SO much tastier than that sounds. And, if you cook it right, it can be visually appealing as well.

This one takes a bit of time, though. Give yourself an hour. Much of that hour is spent baking the eggplant, so you can do other things. Like chop onions and tomatoes. I substituted this for baba ganoush in my mezze tonight. It was really a mini-mezze, pita, tabouli and bharta. And yogurt. I got the tabouli recipe from one of the Moosewood cookbooks, and since that’s under copyright that’s all I’m going to say about it. It’s good, though, and I’ve got a picture for you at the bottom.

You need: 1 large eggplant (brinjal); 1 medium onion, finely chopped; 4 small tomatoes (like romas), finely chopped; 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (dhania); 1/4 each of turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder (or substitute 1 small tsp garam masala for all of these); 1 tsp ginger paste; 1 tbsp lemon juice; 1 tsp paprika (for color); salt to taste; oil

How to: Heat the oven to 400 F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Slice the eggplant lengthwise and put it (skin up) on the cookie sheet. Put it in the oven and cook till done (30-40 minutes). Start chopping vegetables 🙂 When the eggplant is done, and it’s cooled, scoop out the insides, discarding the skin.

Alternatively, slice it in half, spray with oil, and broil skin up until the skin turns black.

If you have a gas stove, you can do this differently. Simply take the whole eggplant and roast it over the open flame. When the skin blackens all over and starts to crack, take it off and soak it in cold water. Let it cool. Squeeze gently to remove the excess water and peel and chop coarsely.

However you’re cooking it, at this point you mash it thoroughly.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the onions and sautée for 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ginger, and spices and stir well. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Add the eggplant and cook a couple minutes more. Add some water (if necessary) – not more than 1/4 cup. Mix well and let it cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and cilantro and mix.

Best eaten with some sort of flatbread – naans, chapatis, pita, tortillas, etc.

Here’s the picture of the tabouli.

tabouli.jpg