Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bharta - Curried Eggplant

Bharta – Curried Eggplant
From Time Life Series – Foods of the World: The Cooking of India

Prep time: 20 minutes total
Roasting time: 30-60 minutes
Final Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves 4-6

2 large eggplants (2 lb/900g)
4 medium ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp red chili pepper flakes (or more if you want it spicier)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp canola oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger root, scraped and finely minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 tsp garam masala
Juice of ½ lemon (or more to taste)

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F/220°C. Wash the eggplants and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, cut a dozen ½” deep, 1” long gashes in the skin. Place the eggplants on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and roast until very tender (depending on the oven and eggplants – anywhere from 30-60 minutes).

2. Transfer eggplants to cutting board, cut in half length-wise as soon as you can handle them. Scrape the pulp and coarsely chop. Discard the skin. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant pulp with the tomatoes, 2 tbsp of fresh cilantro, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili pepper flakes.

3. Heat butter and oil over moderate heat in a large skillet or pot. When the butter/oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger and onions, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. The onions should be soft and translucent, not brown. Add the eggplant mixture and continue to stir until most of the liquid evaporates and the mixture is quite thick. Add the garam masala and taste for seasoning.

To serve, sprinkle with remaining cilantro and lemon juice…and more chili flakes if you need the heat.

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