A spicy vegetable side dish in the hyderabadi style, where North Indian and South Indian seasonings are combined. Serve hot with meat or vegetable curries, rice, and dal or serve it cold, as a salad, with cold meats, Indian or Western.
4 tbsp olive or canola oil
1/8 tsp ground asafetida
1/2 tsp skinned urad dal or yellow split peas
1/2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole nigella seeds (kalonji)
1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-1/2 lb. slim Japanese eggplants, cut crossways into 1" segments, or "baby" Italian eggplants cut in half lengthways and then crossways into 1" segments*
2 medium tomatoes, grated, about 1-1/4 cups
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
* Once cut, you should have 1" chunks with as much skin on them as possible so they do not fall apart.
Step 1: Pour the oil into a very large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the asafetida and the urad dal. As soon as the dal turns a shade darker, add the mustard, cumin, nigella and fennel seeds, in that order.
Step 2: When the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, add the onions. Stir and fry for a minute. Add the garlic and the eggplant. Stir and fry for 4-5 minutes or until the onions are a bit browned.
Step 3: Add the grated tomatoes, stock, salt and cayenne. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook about 20 minutes or until the eggplants are tender, stirring now and then.
Reprinted with permission from Madhur Jaffrey's At Home With Madhur Jaffrey (2010 Knopf Canada).