Saturday, February 6, 2010

Royal Eggplants from Paytpooja

 While I was sitting there reading and drooling over Paytpooja's Stuffed Eggplants & Potatoes I didn't think I could ever make this complicated dish. That too a vegetable! But all that is water under the bridge. Now I just love those veggies. Slowing metabolism spawns wisdom:-) I happen to have a soft corner for eggplants which was not a regular item at our home. The thing with eggplant is you either like it or you hate it. There seems to be no middle ground.

Hope Geets will not mind me renaming them the Royal Eggplants because that is what they are. Like it says in her post, a dish fit for Kings! My eggplant hater of a husband couldn't remember hating them ever after the first delicious morsel was in...

I took few more shortcuts and the outcome was still fantastic. Reduced the masala ingredients to fasten the process as it was my first time. Got enough to make it twice! Hope I got the right proportions. I also combined masala 2 into the main ingredients list so the storable masala is separate. I am reproducing Geeta's recipe here with the small adaptations I did for convenience:

In The Mix

japanese eggplants - 6 (washed & dried)
red potatoes - 6 ( i love these. peeled regular potatoes are equally good too as tried that too)
red onion - 1 meduim sized
fresh grated coconut - 2 tbsp
chili powder -  1/2 tbsp or less ( change according to your heat tolerance)
garlic cloves - 6 or 7 peeled and crushed
salt to taste
olive oil - enough to fry

for masala  - recipe needs >1 tbsp

mustard seed - 1 tbsp
whole cumin - 1 tbsp
split urad dal - 3 tsp
channa dal - 3 tsp
toor dal - 2 tsp
whole methi - 1/4 tsp or less
whole black pepper - 2 tsp
whole coriander seeds  - 1/2 tsp (didn't use it since i didn't ave it at home)

How To Do

to make masala
Recipe calls to fry each separately.  Being a little lazy and having clamoring kids around, I took a flat frying pan and fried the dals and cumin in separate clusters at the same time. Small quantities made this possible. Microwaved mustard, cumin and methi which is a great tip.First 10 seconds and then maybe 5 more taking care not to burn at any stage. Let everything cool.. Again small quantities helped me to grind it all together in our pepper mill.. Only a little more than 1 tbsp is needed for the recipe. Store the rest in an airtight bag/container. I had enough to make it twice. Once you have the masala, the second time is a breeze. Next time I will make more following the recipe measurements.
Preheat oven to 450F. This is the broil setting in my oven. Place the onion on a foil on the top shelf for 30 to 40 minutes. While onion is in the oven you can make the above masala if it is not already done. Roast the grated coconut till golden brown. Take the onion out at the end of designated time and peel off the black layers. Place the onion in a grinder along with the coconut. and grind to a smooth paste. Add about 1 tbsp of the prepared dry masala, chili powder and salt. Blend well.

Slit the eggplant with a sharp knife from the nose to the stalk  taking care to keep shy off about 1" from the stalk so the slit pieces can be held together there. Now generously spread the masala onto each layer of the eggplants making sure to keep all layers together in shape. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F ( Open the door to bring down the temp from previous broiling step if necessary)

Time to tend to the potatoes.  Cut in halves if using red potatoes. Peel and cut into 2-3 pieces if using regular potatoes. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes on both sides till golden brown. Fry red potatoes cut side first. A few minutes on each side  will do the trick. Take out, drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt on both sides when hot . Potatoes will complete cooking in the oven so no need to over fry. Covering up the potatoes with any remaining masala makes it tastier as the recipe suggests. I leave some masala free for my girl who loves potatoes.

Remove some of the \oil if necessary and place the eggplants into the pan one or two at a time depending on the space.  Spread out the slit layers and fry onl all sides. Drain on paper towels.

Add the crushed garlic cloves to the oil for a few minutes and take out when soft.

Place the eggplants and potatoes in one or two baking dishes or cookie sheets lined with foil. Sprinkle with garlic cloves and bake for about 30 minutes. Wait! Hold your breath please. Out comes the most spenldid veggie dish I have seen in my entire life!!! Thanks paytpooja for this awesome recipe!

Potatoes will not keep for long but the eggplants can be frozen according to paytpooja. I have yet to do this because the egplants and potatoes vanish in no time. Perfect with hot rice or the breads.