Stuffed Baby Eggplants
December 6, 2011 • Food & Cooking
This recipe uses baby eggplants stuffed with a mixture that includes nuts, coconut, onions and spices. This unusual preparation adds a lot of visual interest to an Indian meal. Sometimes, Indian food can have a sameness from too many vegetables in sauces. While this is an important part of the Indian tradition, leaving the eggplants whole makes for a nice contrast on the plate. Serve this dish with basmati rice and perhaps a lentil based dish for a complete meal.
7 or 8 baby eggplants
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon chopped chilies, or to taste
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablesppon ground coriander
1/2 cup grated coconut
1/4 cup nuts – cashews, almonds, pepitas or similar
1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds.
2. After 30 seconds or so, add the ginger, chilies and garlic.
3. Stir or shake the pan so the ginger, garlic and chilies are evenly distributed in the oil, and cook for a minute or so.
4. Add the chopped onion, stir well and turn down the heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes, until soft.
5. While the onion is cooking, slit the eggplants with two cuts from the round end toward the stem so that each one is divided into 4 quarters, still attached at the top.
6. When the onions are almost soft, add the coconut, turmeric, ground coriander and nuts and stir to mix. Add enough salt so that the mixture tastes distinctly salty.
7. After cooking for a few more minutes, grind the onion mixture in a food processor so that it becomes a coarse paste.
8. Stuff the paste into the slits of the eggplants and squeeze gently to distribute. Make sure that there is a little paste left over.
9. Put the eggplants in a microwavable dish, cover with plastic and microwave for 5 to 10 minutes depending on your eggplants and microwave, checking occasionally. The eggplants should be completely soft to the touch.
10. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and add the eggplants. Brown the outside of the eggplants, turning as needed, but being careful not to break them apart.
11. When the eggplants are almost browned, add any remaining paste to the pan along with a little water and stir to make a sauce.
12. Transfer the eggplants to a serving dish and pour the sauce over them.
• Baby eggplants are available at some supermarkets and many ethnic specialty markets. Indian markets have the small round eggplants that are best with this dish, but you can also use the thin Japanese eggplants that can be easier to find. This dish does not work well with big American eggplants. Our upcoming Culinary Tour of South India will delve into local vegetable markets to see the astonishing variety of fruits and vegetables available to the Indian cook.
• Rather than using the microwave, you can also cook the eggplants in the pan over a medium heat, turning frequently – this adds about 10 or 15 minutes to the cooking time.
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