Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry)

I asked for good vegetable recipes, and you, my lovely readers, delivered. This gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian recipe comes via my foodie friend LeftyProf.

Vineeta’s (LeftyProf’s sis-in-law’s) Baingan Bharta

Ingredients:

1 lb. Indian eggplant (these are small, bulbous eggplant, smaller than the size of an apple). Alternatively, you might use purple Chinese eggplant, the long, thin variety.
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3-4 medium tomatoes, diced (about the same volume as the onion)
A 3-inch piece of fresh ginger root, finely julienned
6 fresh Indian green chillies, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Method:

1. First, brush the eggplants lightly with oil, or spritz them with cooking spray. Roast each eggplant over a low open flame, turning constantly, until the outer skin is charred and nearly falling off. The smoky flavor of the charred skin should seep into the flesh of the eggplant as it softens. When fully roasted, set them aside, and allow to cool. Extract the pulp of each eggplant, and discard the charred skin.

2. In a pan, heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil, and add the sliced onions. Sauté the onions until they begin to brown, then thrown in the ginger. Continue to sauté until the mixture becomes a mellow golden brown. Then add the green chillies and stir for a minute more.

3. Add the tomatoes and the eggplant, mash the whole thing together with the back of a spoon, cover and simmer. Add salt and cook until done, about 10-15 minutes.

4. Garnish with chopped cilantro and salt to taste.

Serve with any Indian bread—best with chapatis or rotis.

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Baba Ganoush

This classic Lebanese eggplant dip (more here) is surprisingly easy to make.  The key is to buy small, skinny eggplants.  You’re roasting these over an open flame and the big, fat, genetically modified monsters you get at the supermarket are too thick to allow the heat to penetrate through the eggplant and cook all of the flesh.  We got ours at Livengood Farms at the Reading Terminal Market– local, organic and totally delicious.  Consider this our first entry in the Philadelphia Local Food Challenge!

Baba Ganoush:

3 eggplants, small and skinny

juice of 1 lemon

4 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1 clove chopped garlic (optional)

2 generous pinches of salt

1 small pinch pepper

I’m sorry, but this recipe only works on a gas stove (or a grill).  Put the flame on medium or medium low (you want to do this slowly).  Hold your eggplant with tongs and turn it very slowly over the flame.  Do this until the skins are charred completely black and starting to split.

Once your eggplants are cooked, put them in a shallow dish and cover it with saran wrap. You want to seal this so that the heat left in the eggplants steams up the dish as it escapes and helps to steam the charred skins right off.  You can leave this overnight if you want to.

When you bring out your eggplants, peel off the charred skins.  It’s fine if a few bits get into the baba (it’ll have a nice smoky flavor) but you want to try to peel it as much as you can.  If they’re really charred well, they should peel right off, but if you have any problem try peeling them under cold running water or submerged in cold water.

Mash the eggplant in a bowl with all ingredients.  Serve with pita bread, matzoh or gluten-free crackers (if that’s how you roll).  Healthy, smoky, tangy and snackable.  Makes a great appetizer for Sukkot dinner!

If you keep this in the fridge, cover it with saran wrap and push the wrap all the way down onto the surface of the baba, to keep it from oxidizing.

Thanks to Joe and Leftyprof for these instructions!

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