Before I started blogging, I used to always be jealous of other food bloggers. I thought they must be eating gorgeous meals everyday for lunch and dinner. I was naïve; I didn’t realize that they are all human beings. Some of them have full time jobs, some have kids and some are (un)fortunate enough to have neither, like me now. Before I left my job, I thought I can cook all the dishes in the whole wide world and check off every box on my “to cook” wait list. Again, I was either being naïve or unrealistic. Even as a part-time volunteer, I struggle to cook more than one thing for dinner, pack leftovers for lunch. Sometimes I just give up and go to the NIH cafeteria where I buy bland sushi or sometimes “edible enough” Indian food. So where is the hidden monster that is eating up all my time? I still do not have the answer. I am not usually a lazy type but I do work better under pressure. If I have less time, I’ll perform better and more efficiently. If I have more time in hand, I’ll be lazy and do almost nothing. I am weird, I know.
Long story short, I have a few quick-and-dirty dishes I find very handy on a busy (read lazy) day. One of them is baingan raita/eggplants topped with spiced yogurt. This is a pretty new addition to my culinary collection. A few months ago when I bought some cute-looking white eggplants and asked for a probable recipe, my fellow blogger, Chitrangada suggested that I make baingan raita. I was immediately attracted toward the idea and decided to make it. I didn’t need a specific recipe as I had a basic idea of how to make to which I added a few little twists of my own. This is a very simple but delicious dish. It takes very little time and goes well with any kind of Indian bread. I cannot give you any measurement because I didn’t use any myself. It’s just a few ingredients thrown in based on whim and fancy.
What you need:
One medium-big, firm purple eggplant. Fresher the better.
Red chili powder/cayenne pepper
Whole black mustard seeds
Dried whole red chilis
Oil for shallow frying the eggplant
How do I do it:
- Wash the eggplant and cut the eggplant in half (in length) and then cut them 3/4” thick slices (they will look like half moons).
- Coat the eggplants with salt and turmeric and let them marinate for 10-15 minutes.
- Heat up the oil in a shallow frying pan. Pat dry the eggplant pieces and then slide them into the oil. Do not over crowd the pan.
- Cook the eggplant pieces until both sides are nicely brown (nor burnt).
- Take them out on a paper towel and finish the entire batch like this.
- Keep around a tablespoon (may be more or less, will depend on the amount of yogurt and eggplant) of oil in the pan.
- Beat the yogurt real smooth. Add very finely chopped garlic, red chili powder/cayenne pepper, salt and sugar to it. Taste for seasoning. If you do not like garlic, you can omit it.
- In the remaining oil, add few mustard seeds and let them start popping. Once they refuse to stay in the pot and starts jumping out of the pan, add the curry leaves and the dry red chilis. Let the curry leaves curl and darken a little bit.
- Add the seasoning to the yogurt and immediately cover the pot to trap the flavor. Chill it in the fridge.
- Right before you serve, mix the seasoning with the yogurt and either pour the yogurt over the eggplants or lay the eggplants over the yogurt. Your call.
** If you do not have access to curry leaves, skip the seasoning step and add finely chopped cilantro while serving. Or just add the mustard and the red chilis. You can broil the eggplants if you are a health freak.
Here is another version of eggplant raita which also looks very interesting.
I am sending this entry to Srivalli’s Cooking4allseason’s “Side dish mela” event.