Anamika Aunty’s masala-stuffed eggplant
This eggplant recipe was such a hit, that it's sure to become a new staple in my weekly vegetable rotation. Spicy, nutty and a touch smokey, this eggplant recipe has been perfected over generations on my husband's side of the family. And I may have never tasted it, had I not been serendipitously stuck in Phoenix recently. It comes from our Anamika Aunty, who said this is a very “gujju style” recipe, if you will. She learned it from her mother, who most likely learned it from her mother — all of whom are from the north Indian state of Gujarat. Like most Indian recipes, it requires a lot of ingredients. It's also a two-part cooking process. But don't let that hold you back. It's actually very simple and creates little mess, as you're making the masala in bowl and then stuffing the eggplants. The masala is good enough to eat all on its own. And if you're not into eggplants (and I know it's not eggplant season here), you could make the same masala and stuff it into any vegetable that you’d like — think okra, potatoes or onions. One cooking note: Make the masala saltier than you'd like it. The eggplant absorbs everything, so it needs a good amount of salt to make it shine. Also, you don't have to make the finishing spice and oil mixture, but it is what makes this recipe (or any Indian recipe) go from really good to really, ridiculously good.
Make the masala saltier than you'd like it. The eggplant absorbs everything, so it needs a good amount of salt to make it shine. Also, you don't have to make the finishing spice and oil mixture, but it is what makes this recipe (or any Indian recipe) go from really good to really, ridiculously good.
MAKES 4 EGGPLANTS
For the masala
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons chickpea flour
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
½ teaspoon honey
1 small green chili, minced
1 inch ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Small bunch coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
For the eggplant
4 medium eggplants
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 dried red chili peppers
8 to 10 curry leaves
In a large bowl, add all the masala ingredients and use you hands to combine. Season with salt, to taste. Don't be afraid to make it a little salty, as the eggplant will absorb a lot.
Cut a slit in the eggplants down the middle, but don't slice all the way through. Sprinkle and rub with a generous amount of salt. Stuff the eggplants with as much of the masala as will fit Reserve the remaining bit to sprinkle on top at the end.
In a dutch oven, add about 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket inside and then place the eggplants on the steamer basket. Cover the pot and steam until the eggplants are completely soft, 20 to 22 minutes. (If you have a steamer, you can use that).
Once soft, remove the eggplants from the pot and discard the water. Wipe the pot clean. Then, set the pot over medium-high heat and warm the coconut oil. Once hot, add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggplants and any remaining masala, and carefully cook to get a little charring on the sides.
Remove from the heat, drizzle with whatever's left in the pan and serve.