Bittersweet Baingan: Green Eggplant with Cashews and Jaggery

25 Oct

Bittersweet Baingan

Before I moved to south India, baingan (eggplant) was strongly linked in my mind with baingani – the color purple. Imagine my surprise when I first discovered that baingan could be green. Since then, my relationship with the green baingan has gone from misgivings to experimentation to understanding. I have discovered that this variety of eggplant takes a slightly shorter time to cook than its purple sibling, and that certain ingredients complement the green eggplant better.

Bittersweet baingan uses the long and slim and green type of eggplant. If that is not available in your area, you could probably substitute it with the round green eggplant. I suspect the purple will not take so well to this medley of spices – fenugreek seeds to make it "bitter", cashews and jaggery to do their bit for "sweet".

Bittersweet Eggplant with Cashews

You Need:

* Long green eggplant – 4 small or 3 medium
* Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
* Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) – 1/3 teaspoon
* Cashew nuts – 1/2 cup
* Red chili flakes- 1/2 teaspoon
* Salt – To taste
* Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
* Jaggery (powdered) – 1 teaspoon
* Oil – 1 tablespoon

Bittersweet Baingan Ingredients

How To Make Bittersweet Baingan:

Keep a large bowl of salted water handy. Trim the heads of long green eggplant and cut them into disks. As you cut, transfer the eggplant slices into the salted water.

Soak the eggplant slices in salted water for 30 minutes before cooking. [Doing so prevents discoloration and takes out some of the bitterness of eggplant.]

Long Green Eggplant Slices

After 30 minutes, remove the eggplant slices from water, pat dry and drain the water that had been used for soaking.

In a thick flat-bottomed pan, heat oil. Add the fenugreek (methi) seeds, then mustard seeds.

Oil with Tadka

When the methi seeds turn just brown (be careful, fenugreek seeds are tricky to handle in tadka – if the timing is off, they would either remain raw and bitter, or become burnt and bitter), add the eggplant slices. You might have to step away from the pan at this point, as the water in the eggplant makes the pan sizzle and splutter.

Eggplant Slices Cooking

Let the eggplant cook covered on medium heat, stirring occasionally in between. This doesn’t take too long to cook fully, 8 minutes or so- depending on the thickness of the eggplant disks. When the eggplant around 3/4th done, add turmeric powder, salt and chili flakes.

Eggplant with Turmeric and Chili

When 90% done, add cashew nuts.

Eggplant Cooking with Cashew

When nearly all done, and jaggery and stir in to mix well. Let the jaggery melt and coat the eggplant pieces.

Eggplant with Cashew and Jaggery

Bittersweet green eggplant is ready to serve.

Bittersweet Baingan

Serving Suggestion: Try bittersweet green eggplant with tomato toor dal, parathas and carrot onion raita.

Old pic:

Bittersweet Green Eggplant with Cashews and Jaggery

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