Eggplant, Brinjal, Aubergine, Vazhuthananga, Kathrikkai... whatever name it goes by, it has been one of my favorites since childhood.
I think a number of recipes I have collected here feature eggplant as the primary ingredient - be it Japanese, Malaysian, Indian or Italian recipes :-)
Original eggplants were white and about the size of a hen-egg apparently, hence the name... Then hybrids started defaulting to deep purple as they don't look as bad as the white ones when bruised ;-)
The lovely purple flowers the plant puts out early in the season in our garden is a sight to behold. And, as many would know by now, eggplant is a fruit, a berry in fact.
While calliopes, ichiban, black beauty and a few other varieties are just as good, my favorite has been what are called "baby eggplants" - what I call Indian eggplant or brinjal - that are a gorgeous purple, with smooth tender flesh, not too many seeds, about the size of a large hen-egg.
The best way to enjoy these "baby" eggplants in my opinion is to slit and stuff them with favorite spices and pan cook them as in this recipe :-)
And this is my post for JFI's Eggplant event hosted by Sangeeta at Ghar ka Khana
8-10 baby/Indian eggplant
3-4 Tbsp oil
for the stuffing:
4 Tbsp dry grated coconut
3 Tbsp chana dal
2 Tbsp urad dal
1-2 dry red chilies
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt to taste
plus, 4-6 tbsp tamarind concentrate/juice
Tempering: 1 tsp coconut oil or canola oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp urad dal, 1 tsp chana dal, 2 Tbsp dry grated coconut
tempering: heat oil in a pan, when shimmering add the chana dal, when it turns golden brown add the urad dal, when it turns golden brown add the mustard seeds, and when they pop add the cumin seeds and dry grated coconut; sauté till coconut turns golden brown; turn off heat and keep handy for garnish
stuffing: dry roast the stuffing ingredients, then coarsely grind them to powdery consistency, then add a little tamarind concentrate at at time to make a thick paste
slit the eggplants in quarters, taking care not to cut all the way to the stem - leave them attached at the stem
stuff each eggplant with the prepared stuffing, taking care not to break them apart
heat oil in a pan, place the stuffed eggplants gently on the pan, add any remaining stuffing, sprinkle a dash of salt and a tablespoon or two of water (not too much), cover and cook on medium low till eggplant is cooked and the skin develops a slight crispness, turning once or twice to get the skin crisped all over
take care not to break the eggplant, try to keep them whole when handling :-)
Garnish with the tempering and serve warm with rice or roti.