Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Indian Eggplant (Burtha)

I love eggplant. Its taste and texture are totally unique and it  can stand hours of overcooking in a way the fibers of most vegetables can’t.  How would I know that? Well, I grew up in England where Mushy Peas are beloved and vegetables are only eaten after they own no flavor. Anyway, this is a killer of a tasty veg dish that you can add as much extra heat to as your heart desires. Use one large American eggplant or two small Indian ones. Better yet, if available, buy Chinese eggplant. Chinese eggplant  is far superior when it comes to a quick marinade for soaking up flavors and there’s no need to  pre-prep by broiling (as in #1)because you  eat the skin. Burtha is both a fine side dish or a superb dip


 1 eggplant, or 2 large  Chinese eggplant
 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 large tomato - peeled, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup frozen peas


   1. Preheat the  broiler in your oven. Rub oil on the skin of the egg plant, or coat thoroughly with cooking spray. Place under the broiler, and cook until the flesh is soft and the skin is bubbling and beginning to blister off, app. 30 minutes. Turn when necessary for even cooking. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, scoop the flesh out of the skin, discard the skin; chop up the flesh, and set aside.
   2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the cumin seed still they crackle for a few seconds and turn golden brown. Act fast. Do not let them burn!   Add the onion, ginger and garlic; cook and stir until tender. Lower the heat after two minutes to medium. Do not  let the onions get too brown. Stir in the peas and  tomato, and season with turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Cook and stir for a few minutes.
   3. Place the eggplant pieces in the skillet, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until most  of the moisture evaporates. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.

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