To put it mildly, I never had a preference for eggplants. Even my husband, a purist, who vivaciously vocalizes on the goodness of all kinds of vegetables, has a dislike for eggplants. According to his observations, it is my lack of experience in cooking this particular vegetable render a bland taste to the dish, albeit, I disagree. Hence after an elaborate search and tinkering of my recipes from my repertoire, I decided to conquer my dislike and fear for this vegetable on the next trip to the supermarket. Before I leave, I thought, I would gather several facts about this veggie.
With all these information on hand (courtesy wikipedia), I decided to embark on my journey to the purple world. I am not talking about Barney ofcourse! At my nearest supermarket, eggplants are perfectly stacked, waxed and cozy with occasional sprays of water looking natural and healthy, into a corner away from those glossy, vibrant and rich tomatoes. Occasionally, they also get the opportunity to enjoy a close kinship with scary, thorny vegetable – artichoke (The name itself suggests something horror and sends shivers down the spine!). Sometimes, they could be seen chatting up with leafy vegetables also. Probably this layout of vegetables was meant for people who like a challenge. My 10 minute trip to the market involves a sprint in the vegetable section with a quick pick and toss of tomatoes, potatoes, beans and carrots and onions into the cart. From time to time, I linger with leafy vegetables – spinach, collards, chards and lettuces. This is as far as I would go near eggplants. But this time, things have changed. With gentle trepidation in my heart, I grabbed my bag and ventured into the un-chartered territory. Keep the eyes closed, don’t look at the artichokes. To my surprise, I found many kinds of eggplants – small ones, long and lean ones, short ones, green ones and chubby ones. This time, I decided to try small and chubby ones. It would be perfect for my recipes - spaghetti with fried eggplant and Khosu, my entries for JFI-Eggplant. Maybe next time I might take a crack at artichokes. Who am I kidding?
I must admit that I revisited my recipes of eggplant after I had a wonderful encounter with a spectacular Italian dish – Eggplant parmiagana. Although I know that anything fried must taste good (except icecream ofcourse!), this particular dish has kicked off a new interest in me for eggplants.
For the sauce:
Half onion nicely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and herbs
1 tsp tomatoe paste
Handful of basil leaves
½ lb cooked spaghetti
For the fried eggplants:
2 cups of Italian eggplant diced
Italian seasoned Breadcrumbs
What to do:
Salt the eggplants and keep it aside for few minutes. Wash the eggplants and pat it down with paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Whisk together egg with 1 tbsp of water until it is blended. Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan. Dip the eggplant pieces into the egg mixture and then dredge in breadcrumbs. Fry them golden brown in oil.
Add the cooked spaghetti into the sauce. Mix in the fried eggplants. Finish it off with parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. Divine!!
Khosu – Smashed eggplants in a spicy tamarind sauce
This is a contribution from my husband, an old recipe from my mother-in-law. An interesting aspect of this dish is that only eggplant is cooked and rest is made by hand. Literally hands!!!!
4 Small Indian Eggplants
5 dry red chillies
6-8 pieces of diced shallots
about ¼ cup of tamarind
2 – 3 cups of water
Coconut oil and curry leaves
Cut the eggplants half way through while keeping its stems intact.