Baighan Tarkari – Simple Aubergine Curry

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!


Golden Spiced Eggs

This lifts simple boiled eggs to a new level, and served with steamed vegetables and plain rice this becomes an easy delicious meal for one of those, “What can I cook tonight?” dilemmas.

You probably already know that Eggs do not belong in a fridge!  If you are one of those souls whose eggs live in a dark chilly cave, please, please bring them out and let them reach a normal temperature before using.  Then if you’re feeling brave try leaving the next eggs you buy just in your store cupboard.  You will find that, not only do they taste better, because they don’t pick up the smell and flavours of things they’ve shared their frigid cell with, but they do not go off – well, not unless you don’t use them for a couple of months or so!

Ingredients to serve 4 hungry folks!

8-10 large organic Eggs; 2 x 400 ml cans of Coconut Milk, well stirred; 1 Onion, finely chopped; 2 fat Garlic Cloves, finely chopped; a large, ripe, sweet tomato, chopped well; 2 tsp Ghee or Veg/Rice Oil; 1 tsp Turmeric; 2 dried Red Chillies, crushed; Sea Salt; a bunch of fresh Chives – preferably with their delightful lavender coloured flowers on too – they are perfectly edible!

First boil the eggs ’til they are [just] hard.  Try and get them hard enough to not fall apart when cut in half, but not so hard that you could use them for golf balls!  Pop them in a bowl of cold water to cool down, and then shell and cut in half.

Using a largish, high sided, fry pan warm the ghee or oil.  Gently stir and saute the onion and garlic til golden brown. Add the tomato and continue to cook ’til it has softened.   Add the turmeric to about 600 ml of your coconut milk, then stir it slowly into the mixture.  Then add in your crushed chillies and a small sprinkle of salt.  Bring it to a just bubbling simmer for a couple of minutes, then slide in your egg halves.  Give the whole another 2-3 minutes to warm through then carefully transfer to a warmed serving dish.

Chop your chives to 2/3″ long and dress the golden eggs with them and arrange the flowers around the dish.  It looks superb, but as you can see is ‘easy-peasy’ to do!