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".

You Need:

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

How To Make Bittersweet Baingan:

Wash and soak the eggplant slices in salted water, for 30 mins before cooking. This takes out some of its bitterness. After 30mins, remove the eggplant slices from heat, pat dry and drain the water that had been used soaking.

In a thick flat-bottomed pan, heat oil. Add the fenugreek (methi) seeds, then mustard seeds. 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 stove at this point, as the water in the eggplant makes the pan sizzle and splutter.

Let the eggplant cook covered on medium heat, stirring occasionally in between. When it’s around 3/4th done, add turmeric powder, salt and chili flakes. This doesn’t take too long to cook fully, 8 minutes or so- depending on the thickness of the eggplant disks. When 90% done, add cashew nuts. When nearly all done, and jaggery and stir in to mix well. Let the jaggery melt and coat the eggplant pieces.

Bittersweet green eggplant is ready to serve.

Bittersweet Green Eggplant with Cashews and Jaggery

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

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