Hi friends. It turns out I’ve gotten so used to taking pictures of my cakes that I’ve begun feeling odd not having the camera out whenever I cook, so today I’m experimenting with a non-dessert post. I promise I have many more sweet things coming soon, but I wanted to share some of the other delicious and fun stuff I’ve been making. Plus, it’s nice to be able to post more often without adding any expense (or calories) to what would already be on our grocery list anyway, so I am considering making this a semi-regular feature. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

baingan ka bharta - loosely translated: Indian Eggplant Mush

If, like me, you are part of a CSA share, or if, unlike me, you are lucky enough to have a garden, you may have recently had a lot of eggplant in your weekly harvest. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a bit bewildered about what to do with them. They seem really intimidating, and a lot of work, and they always turned out kind of chewy. But then I remembered how much I loved the eggplant dish I had at our local Indian restaurant, and I decided to see how difficult it would be to reproduce. As it turns out, it’s not difficult at all! I’m not going to claim my version is in any way authentic; I’m sure it isn’t, but it is a delicious way to eat eggplant.

Step 1: Take your eggplant, chop off the ends, slice it in half lengthwise, and set it flat-side down on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Pop it in the broiler until the skin gets wrinkly and looks charred. Most recipes I’ve looked at say this takes 30 minutes, but mine took closer to 45. I’m sure this depends on the size of your eggplant, so check often.

I’ve also read that you can bake it in a 400 degree oven and get the same effect, but I haven’t tried it that way.

When the eggplant is finished cooking, it will be ready to fall right out of its skin. Set the pan aside until the eggplant is cool enough to handle, and start working on your seasonings. Or, if you want to stop and save the rest for another day, you can put your eggplant in the fridge and pull it out when you are ready to continue.

Step 2: Chop up a medium size onion and saute in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until the onion is golden brown, then add your spices. My latest version was based on the recipe found here, with some slight adaptations to fit what I had in my pantry.

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger (I used dried, powdered ginger)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I cheated here and used a tablespoon or so of the pre-minced, jarred kind)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

I wish you could smell this stuff; it was heavenly! If you are used to spicy Indian food though, you will find that this amount of seasoning is very, very mild. I would suggest doubling it – or more, depending on your palate. In our house, my husband and I both thought it needed more heat, but our 6-year old devoured it, and our 18-month old pushed it away. So I guess that makes it a 2 out of 4 on the Campbell heat index? (I think there may be an exponential curve on that scale, just to warn you…)

Also, if you can find Garam Masala (an Indian spice blend), a couple teaspoons of that makes a lovely addition. I left it out of this batch and I found I missed it. It’s not in most supermarkets, but my local health food store sells it by the ounce, and it’s not very expensive. (Actually, the health food store is a great place to get all your spices, as it is far cheaper and you can buy it in whatever quantity you need.)

Step 3: Back to the eggplant. Now that it is cool enough to handle, take a fork and scoop the insides away from the skin. It should be super easy to do – the eggplant just needs a little hint of encouragement to pull away. Once you’ve done that, dump the eggplant into your onion/spice mix. To that, I add a can of pureed tomatoes. Most recipes I’ve consulted actually say to add one or two chopped fresh tomatoes instead of the puree, but I didn’t have fresh tomatoes on hand on my first attempt. I substituted with the puree and I thought it turned out well, so I’ve continued that alteration.

Once that is all mixed together and heated through, you’re done! Since I was using this as a main course, I added a can of drained chickpeas for a bit of extra protein, but they are not a requirement. Either way, you’ve got a hearty bowl of deliciousness! Garnish it with a bit of cilantro, or some chopped fresh tomato, as pictured. Serve with rice, or as a special treat you can buy a packet of Naan (Indian flatbread) at your supermarket. Heat it up according to package directions and brush with olive oil or butter.

One of these days I’m going to have to learn to cook my own Naan. Mmmmm.

Matt and I both thought this paired really well with a glass of  Pilsner-Urquell, but any lager or IPA would be great too.

 

So there’s my first unfrosted post. What do you think? Would you like to see more? Do you have any recipes to suggest? I’d love to have your feedback!

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