This dish combines the wonderful creaminess of Aubergines with a tangy spiciness. It utilises Paanch Phoran, an Eastern Indian spice mix, which is unusual in that it is used unground. They’re the first items into the pan, to be fried off until just brown and releasing their wonderful aroma.
As those who have read my previous ramblings will know, I do not believe in using electric blenders to grind spices. They are however wonderful for making a short cut to a basic paste which can be used in many curries.
Take your onion, garlic cloves and ginger, roughly chop and then whizz them up in a blender. The resultant paste is usually the number two item to go into the pan and scoops up all the spices and absorbs them into a lovely blend.
Ingredients for 4:
Paanch Phoran: One tsp each of the following seeds, mix thoroughly and store what’s not needed here into an airtight container for future use.
Cumin seeds, Nigella seeds, Fenugreek seeds, Black Mustard seeds, and finally Fennel seeds. Those who find Fennel too strong can substitute perhaps Anise instead.
A nice firm, shiny, unblemished Aubergine. Slice lengthways first into 15 mm slices and if the centre is too ‘seedy’ or soft slice this out too and discard it. Cut across the slices to give you about 4 sections from each slice; 1 medium onion, peeled; 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled; about 25 mm of peeled fresh ginger [rough chop all these and blend as above into a paste]; 1 tsp coriander powder; 1 tsp chilli powder; 1 tsp cumin powder; 1/2 tsp turmeric powder; 2 ripe, juicy tomatoes, rough chopped; 1 tbsp tomato puree; 2 tbsp of good quality veg oil; sea salt if required for seasoning and some fresh Coriander leaves for serving.
Heat the oil in your pan. Add 1 tsp of the Paanch Phoran mix and fry off ’til the seeds pop and give off their wonderful aroma. But do not allow to burn! Add your onion/garlic/ginger paste and stir well so that it picks up all the spices and allow to cook for a few minutes.
Add your Aubergine and stir well and cook for about 5 minutes. Mix your ground spices is a small bowl and then sprinkle evenly over the pan. Stir in well.
Mix the chopped tomatoes and puree and stir in next. Wait ’til the mixture starts to bubble up then reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently away until your aubergine is thoroughly cooked and creamy in texture. Then test and add a little salt if necessary to taste. Serve piping hot. Sprinkle the Coriander leaves as a dressing for the dish.
A plain rice or simple Roti is all you need to go with it.
apanē bhōjana kā ānanda!