Green eggplant in mustard-fenugreek masala is for those who turn their noses up at nuts or sugar in their curries, who say no to recipes like bittersweet baingan. The spices in this one are heavier, headier, not for the faint-hearted.
I made this dish with long green eggplant, which is the mildest-tasting variety of eggplant I know of. The eggplant’s blandness gives a nice base to the strong flavors of the spices.
Doesn’t the simple act of slicing vegetables differently make it feel like a whole new recipe?
- Long green eggplant – 250 grams
- Salt – to taste
- Yellow mustard seeds – 2 teaspoons
- Fenugreek seeds – 1/3 teaspoon
- Dry mango powder (amchoor) – 1/3 teaspoon
- Red chilly powder – 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – 1/3 teaspoon
- Asafoetida – 1/3 teaspoon
- Panch phoron(Bengali five spice mix)* – 1 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 1 tablespoon
1. Pre-cooking step: make roasted mustard-fenugreek powder (sarson-methi powder)
Heat a flat tava or skillet and dry roast 1/3 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and 2 teaspoons of yellow mustard seeds on low heat. When the seeds turn a couple of shades darker, turn off the heat. Allow the seeds to cool to room temperature. Grind them in a blender or using a mortar & pestle.
Mustard-fenugreek powder can be stored in an airtight container for later use, but it tastes most potent when freshly roasted and ground.
2. On to the cooking
Slice green eggplant into four equal halves vertically, then cut them into 1.5-inch long pieces. Soak eggplant slices in cold salted water for 30 minutes. Just before cooking, drain, wash and shake off the water from eggplant slices.
In a non-stick pan, heat a tablespoon of mustard oil to smoking point. Lower heat, add panch phoron and as the fenugreek seeds in it turn dark-brown (this will take a few seconds only), add turmeric, asafoetida and slide in green eggplant slices in quick succession.
Stir so that the oil coats the eggplant slices evenly. Sprinkle salt and mix again. Cook covered on medium heat for 10 minutes, turning the eggplant slices around every other minute. At this stage the eggplant would be nearly done. Sprinkle dry mango powder, red chilly powder, roasted mustard-fenugreek powder and mix. Adjust salt. Cook on low heat for another couple of minutes or till the eggplant slices are ready to eat.
*Panch-phoron is a whole spice mix most commonly used in Bengali cuisine. It contains fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and fennel seeds, typically in equal parts.