This one is a requested dish and with aubergine in season in NZ, I thought it was a great request. Aubergine is called a number of things around the world (Eggplant/Baingan/Brinjal/Guinea Squash etc) but I like aubergine for no reason other than I like the sound of the word. This is a really simple sabzi (vegetable curry) that draws a lot of its flavour from the way the aubergine is cooked. The best way to cook it is over a grill of white hot coals to crisp the skin and give the aubergine a smoky flavour. However, the weather wasn’t playing ball today, so I cooked mine under the grill [broiler]. Hope you like it!
1 aubergine (more if you like the taste!)
2 medium sized onions, chopped
2 fresh chillies (or to taste), chopped or julienned
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2cms of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp smoked paprika (or chilli powder, if you like yours hotter)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
3 tsp ground coriander
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for cooking (mustard oil is best, but any vegetable oil is fine)
Place your aubergine straight onto a grill with some hot coals (best way to get a smoky flavour) or under your oven grill [broiler]. If you have a gas cooktop you can even cook it straight on the gas flames. Leave till the skin is crisp to the touch – keep turning to make sure it’s cooked on all sides. Everyone’s grill will be different, but mine took about 20 mins to cook completely.
While your aubergine is cooking, grab a wok or kadai and fry your onions, garlic and ginger in some oil on a medium heat. Keep frying for about 4-5 minutes until your onions are soft, but not brown. This dish doesn’t have a lot of texture, so you need to find some bite from somewhere – if you cook your onions right, they can maintain their texture but not have the sharpness of raw onions.
Prepare your chillies while your onions are cooking. If you like your dish hot, then chop 2 chillies with all the seeds, pith and flesh. If you want a medium heat, then take out the seeds and pith (they’re the hottest part). If you want it mild (but still some flavour) then 1/2-1 chilli without seeds and pith will set your right. Each chilli has a different heat [Scoville] rating, so make sure you’re not overdoing or underdoing the heat.
Peel your aubergine by cutting off the top and bottom and pulling the skin back with your fingers. You can wait for the aubergine to cool down, first, or just on with it because, like me, you’re hungry.
Then place it in with the other ingredients in the wok/kadai, and mix vigorously so the aubergine flesh breaks apart. Too mashed, and it gives the texture of baby food, in my mind, so a little bit of body doesn’t hurt.