Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hot n' Sizzling Baby Eggplants

As you may have gathered earlier, I love eggplants. There are so many varieties, shapes, sizes and colors when encountering them I can never resist. Yesterday, at the Farmers Market here in Sonoma one of our booths had the most beautiful long slender Japanese eggplants.
In my early days of Indian cooking, since I was a vegetarian I graduated from Madhur Jaffrey to a book Called Lord Krishnas' Cuisine which is the size of the Delhi phone book and contains almost all the vegetarian recipes one could want. I think I cooked three meals a day out of that for a number of years and almost never repeated anything.
So, when I saw those eggplants, I was rocketed back to 1991 and stuffed bitter melon or bottle gourd. I had a sense of deja vu...I could stuff these eggplants I thought. I remember doing that a lot..eggplants, zucchini, okra...they were begging for it.
So, for lunch this afternoon I fixed pan roasted stuffed eggplants. I must have been nuts because it's 105 degrees outside..but a good heat, ya know?? Sure. Who am I kidding.
You might want to try this on the grill...doh! I should have thought of that.Most likely in a grill basket it would work just fine,. I can't swear that it will, since I haven't personally tried it but it makes sense.
Anyway, here's how it goes. I halved this recipe but normally it will serve six people.

1.) Six or 12 small eggplants. The idea here is that if they're very small everybody gets 2, middle sized, 1 apiece. Either the little round Indian variety, that're almost whitish if you can find them in your area or, the long slender Japanese eggplant. As a matter of fact it doesn't really matter, as long as they're small. No bowling ball eggplants please.
2.) Cut them lengthwise, almost to the top but not all the way through. Stop about a half inch from the stem part.

3.) Soak them in a pan of cold water, for a bit..10 minutes or so so they open a bit. It makes them easier to stuff. Set them aside.
Now for the Stuffing
4.) Grind up 3 Tbls of blanched slivered almonds
5.) Add 1 Tbs ground coriander
6.) 1 tsp. ground cumin
7.) 1 tsp. garam masala
8.) 1/2 tsp of turmeric
9.) 1/4 tsp of cayenne
10.) 1/2 Tbs of lime juice. (actually the recipe originally calls for amchoor powder which is dried powdered mango. If you can't find it, don't have it, lime juice will work too.
11.) 1/2 Tbs salt
Ok. Now. Drain your eggplants and dry them.

12.) Take your mixture of ground almonds and spices and smear them on the insides of your cut eggplants. Stuff them so to speak.
13.) push them together and tie them up with a little kitchen twine at each end so that they hold their shape while cooking.

14.) In a heavy skillet heat a few Tbs of vegetable oil.
15.) Toss in a thinly sliced round of ginger.
16.) When the oil is hot put in your eggplants. Move them around for a few minutes, cook them till they're shiny and are starting to brown.

17.) Now, turn your heat way down and slowly cook them for about 20 minutes. Turning them every now and then till they're shiny soft and done.

18.) Take them off the heat. Unsnip their little bindings and set them free on the plate. You can sprinkle them with a bit of finely chopped cilantro.


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