Whenever I spot long eggplants with the shiny gorgeous purple colour, I buy it and invariably end up cooking it this way! That is how much I love it! Considering that I never liked it while growing up, its interesting how I relish cooking with it now!
Known as eggplant in the United States, Canada & Australia, aubergine in France, Britain & much of Europe, brinjal in India and African English, this “fruit” belonging to the nightshade family of potato, tomato & bell peppers is known to be native to India & Srilanka. Salting the eggplants and then draining them off their bitter juices, a process known as "degorging" was important earlier, but you can skip this process now as the present day varieties are not as bitter as they used to be.
I find that most people have a love/hate relationship with brinjals. Either you love it so much that you could eat it in any form cooked in any way or you dislike it so much that you won’t eat it at all!
I also find that cooked and spiced the right way, confirmed brinjal loathers can be converted. Mostly, but like in all cases you will find exceptions to this rule too.
This dish is essentially Kashmiri in nature. In the book "Kashmiri Cooking", Krishna Prasad Dar explains that there are two schools of cooking in Kashmiri cuisine-"Kashmiri Pandit" and "Muslim". The basic difference between the two was that the Pandits used hing (asafetida) and curd and the Muslims used "onions and garlic". Asafetida and yogurt are the predominant parts of this preparation and I love to serve it with "Kashmiri Rajma" and "Saffron Rice". Lightly spiced and coated with it, cooked until plump and fleshy and engulfed in a creamy yogurt sauce, whether you are an eggplant hater or lover you should give this a try! Either ways, the chances are quite high that you will love it!
Dahi Baingan/Eggplants Or Aubergines In A Spiced Yogurt Gravy
Try and select long and slender eggplants for this dish. If you can't locate them then use any other variety of eggplants that you like.
500 gm (7 to 8 numbers) eggplants or aubergines (preferably long variety)
500 gm (2 cups) plain yogurt
3 tbsp mustard or any other vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
For the spice paste:
1 tbsp aniseeds (sauf), roasted and pounded in a mortar and pestle
3/4 tsp hing or asafetida (use 1/2 tsp if you have the strong brown variety)
1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
1 tsp dry ginger powder
3 tbsp water
Fill a medium sized bowl with water, add 2 tsp salt to it and keep aside. Wash and cut the eggplant lengthway into two halves and then cut each half into 2” pieces. Immerse these inside the prepared bowl of water.
With the help of a whisk or a spoon whip the yogurt until smooth and creamy and until there are no lumps.
In a small bowl, mix all the spices the aniseed powder, hing, red chili & ginger powders together with the 3 tbsp water. Whisk with a spoon and keep aside.
In a wok or kadai, heat the oil until smoking point (mustard oil is the only oil which can allowed to smoke!).
Lower the heat and stir in the spice paste. Saute until the oil separates, about a minute and then put in the cut eggplants. Increase the heat a little, stir well until the spices coat the eggplant pieces, cover and cook until they are done, stirring in between to prevent scorching. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
Once the eggplants are cooked, stir in the yogurt and cook on a very low flame, until just before it begins to boil, about 4 to 5 minutes. Do this carefully or else the yogurt will split.
Turn off the heat, stir in the salt and serve with rice or any bread of your choice.
Serves 4 to 5