Healthy Recipe: Eggplant with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Since the roots of my cooking are all based in my childhood, I couldn’t go on until I acknowledged my grandmother for her helping hand in developing my palette and pure passion for cooking. My grandmother ate a vegetarian diet, which is odd because most Pakistanis are carnivores. Everything My Dadijan (Urdu for grandmother) ate was a “sabzi”, a generic name for a South Asian vegetable dish which inevitably became my nickname. The eggplant was one of her favourite ingredients to use, and although this isn’t her recipe, it’s an interpretation of one of hers. This is a simple and straight forward version that can be enjoyed as a starter or a main meal.
Cumin Crusted Eggplant
1 whole eggplant
Course sea salt to taste
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
Olive oil (enough to coat the entire eggplant)
Spicy Tomato Sauce
2 large local tomatoes
2 tsp tomato paste
1 medium white onion finely diced
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 tsp Nigella Seeds
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Madras curry powder
1 whole mild chilli
6-8 fresh curry leaves
2 tsbp fresh cilantro leaves finely chopped
1-2 tsp olive oil
1 can whole chick peas
Salt to taste
1 medium container low-fat yoghurt
2 tsp cumin powder
1 clove of crushed garlic
1 tsp dried mint leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice the eggplant into one inch rounds, sprinkle with table salt and set aside for a couple of hours or overnight. This will bring all the bitter juices in the eggplant out and result in a nicer, tastier and firmer eggplant.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. After you’ve patted the eggplant dry, place it in a bowl cover with olive oil, course sea salt, and cumin seeds.
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of eggplant. Turn once during the baking process. You’ll know the eggplant is cooked when the colour turns from white to yellowish and the texture becomes softer. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
4. While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the tomato sauce. In a medium sauce pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Once it reaches a medium high temperature, add the nigella seeds, the onions and ginger. Cook until soft and all the flavours have melded.
5. Add the fresh tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning (Garam Masala and Madras Curry Powder). Stir until mixed thoroughly. If it starts to dry out, add a little water.
6. Bring sauce to a boil, add the chick peas, then reduce heat to low. Add the curry leaves and whole fresh chilli. Simmer for 5 minutes and lastly add the fresh cilantro leaves, stir, and remove from the heat.
7. Make the yoghurt topping by emptying the yoghurt into a medium non-reactive bowl. Add garlic, mint leaves, cumin powder, salt and pepper. Mix and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
8. When you’re ready to serve, place the cooked eggplant slices on a large platter, then top with tomato chick pea sauce and a dollop of yoghurt and ENJOY!
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