Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cooking with Japanese Eggplant

Much like last year, the eggplant and tomatoes are doing well, but the cucumbers and zucchini are not.  I'll discuss the woes another time, but right now, we are enjoying the eggplant.  We're growing two varieties this year- Orient Express and Fairy Tale- after having great success with our first year of little Fairy Tales in 2011.  Both plants are looking great, and producing eggplant that needs to be picked every few days. 
Orient Express

Fairy Tale

For no good reason, I feel the need to use the Fairy Tale in Italian recipes, and I'm trying to experiment with the Orient Express in Asian fare.  Last night I pulled out a recipe a friend once gave me, from her Indian cooking class. 

Bengan Bharta

1 large eggplant (I used 2 Japanese)
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green chilies, diced (I removed half the seeds and ribs)
1/2" piece of ginger, minced (I was more generous)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro (I was more generous)
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 Tablespoon dhana-jira power (1/2 cumin, 1/2 coriander)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons oil

The recipe calls for peeling the eggplant, but I didn't because the skins on the fresh picked eggplant are really tender.  I cut it into bite-size pieces, and steamed it for about 4 minutes, though you can roast it for a smokier flavor, and then mash it.

While you're cooking the eggplant, chop the vegetables.

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  When hot, add onions and green chiles. Stir for half a minute.  Add ginger and garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and half the cilantro and cook for one minute.  Add all the spices and mix well.

Add the eggplant and cook until it is completely heated through.  Sprinkle remaining cilantro on top.  It can be served with hot bread (someday I'd like to try making this homemade naan), as a dip, or I serve it with basmati rice.

I'm on the lookout for more eggplant recipes.  This won't be the last one you'll see.  If you have suggestions, send them my way!

P.S. I'm hoping we'll soon be able to cook with our own garden tomatoes alongside the eggplant.  The first is just starting to ripen.  These are "Big Boy" though they are not very big.

but there are plenty more of all colors and sizes, coming soon.
Black Cherry

Rosso Sicilian

Green Zebra

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