If you read this blog, you know I love eggplant. And if you eat my Baingan Methi Subzi you will too.
Baingan– which you might call eggplant or aubergine or brinjal depending on where in the world you are — is easily one of the most versatile vegetables around. This rotund wonder pirouettes across regional and international cuisines without missing a beat. Whether you are baking it into an Eggplant Parmesan, mashing it up into Baba Ghanouj, layering it on a pizza, or stuffing it with coconuts and spices for Bharli Vangi, you really cannot go wrong.
Yes, there are some weird people out there who don’t like eggplant– okay, there are many. But that’s probably because they once tasted undercooked eggplant and decided it was evil. And it’s true, eggplant not cooked right can be rubbery, tough, and bitter. But cooked right it is creamy, velvety, and sweet. The Jekyll and Hyde of veggies, you could say.
I found this recipe here and I liked the idea of it except that it involved deep-frying the eggplants. Deep-frying eggplants is a technique lots of Indian cooks use because the boiling oil transforms the eggplant to a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture. But eggplant is a sponge that soaks up oil so it is not the healthiest of techniques. Then I thought I’d just do what I usually do when a recipe calls for frying eggplants: broil them. The results are just as good minus all that fat.
I had some small, globe-like purple eggplants in my refrigerator but you could make this recipe with any kind of eggplant, really. The eggplant and methi, although both bitter veggies, pair up perfectly together in this dish and, with the spices, create an amazing flavor. Sop up this subzi with a soft chapati, or eat it as a side with rice and dal. Again, you can’t go wrong.
- 8 small eggplants, stem removed, then halved lengthwise and quartered. Each eggplant will yield eight pieces. If your eggplants are on the larger side, you may want to cut them into smaller pieces.
- To coat the eggplant:
- 2 tbsp besan or garbanzo bean four
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- A pinch of turmeric
- ½ tsp mango powder or aamchoor
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- For the masala:
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 small bunch methi or fenugreek leaves, tough stems and roots removed, leaves chopped fine
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
- 1-inch knob of ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp garam masala
- Mix the besan, cayenne, turmeric, mango powder and salt and toss the eggplants in it. Add some water if needed to help the besan stick to the eggplants.
- Place the eggplant pieces under a broiler for about 10-15 minutes or until the eggplants are tender. Toss every few minutes with a ladle to ensure all sides cook evenly. Keep an eye on the eggplants when they are under the broiler because they can burn fast. Once they are cooked, set aside.
- Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the onions, ginger, garlic, and curry leaves.
- Saute, stirring frequently, until brown spots appear on the onions. If the ginger and garlic stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little water.
- Add the cumin and coriander powders, cayenne, and the garam masala. Saute for a minute, then add the methi leaves and salt.
- Saute the methi on medium-low heat until it starts to tenderize.
- Add the tomato paste and ½ cup of water. Mix thoroughly, cover, and let the mixture cook for about 8 minutes or until the methi is cooked and tender.
- Add the eggplants and stir them in. Cook for another two minutes, check for salt, then turn off the heat.
- Garnish, if you like, with some fresh coriander. Serve hot.