Monday, July 6, 2009

Eggplant and Potato

Some travel, some health challenges, something or other to do, have all kept me away from this blog for a while. Now the summer heat forces me to rest, so I spend time at the computer playing 'catch up' in a number of areas.

Recently a relative who is a good cook asked us for this recipe.
We both tried to help him with it, shocked that we hadn't made it ourselves in eighteen months or more, and even more surprised that we had forgotten parts of the recipe!
When we got home, we tried it out, forgot parts of it even then, and realized it was time to write it down! A few days ago our daughter reminded me that I had said I would write this recipe down, so here goes.

This is not an easy, quick dish but it is a family classic developed by HD (Hubby Dearest). In the early years of our marriage, we were both impressed by a lady from Andhra who grew her own Japanese eggplant each summer, stuffed them with masala and froze them. Whenever we were invited for dinner, she served a delicious eggplant dish.
At one party HD heard me asking for the recipe of the masala. The next day he got all the info from me, wrote it down and then proceeded to concoct this dish. It turned out so different from our friend's recipe, but so outstanding, that it shot to the group of Family Favorites immediately!
It really made me understand why the kids sometimes used to tell me, "You rest Mom. Let Dad cook!"

Of course HD is aka The Maharaja of Butter, so the amount he used to put into each dish made it `delicious on the lips but forever on the hips!'
Now we know it is `forever in the arteries' too.
Now that he can't cook much, I use the best olive oil in the dish and no one (except HD) can tell the difference.

This is not one my quick fact when HD used to make it, he took the whole day to prepare it and then two hours to clean the kitchen!
I do it in three hours but am so exhausted that I make it only once a year when I get his help with it!
As i write this I am reminded of the old biriyani recipes that the cooks would take a whole day to prepare.
Your investment in time making this masala from scratch, will be fully re-paid by the number of times you can make this dish quickly in the future, using the stored masala.



6 Japanese eggplants (six inch dark purple eggplants.)
3 red potatoes (yellow/brown is fine too, but cooking time is longer.)
Olive oil for frying.
Ingredients for masala 1 and masala 2 listed below.

Masala 1

1 cup rai (mustard seed)
1 cup jeera (whole cumin)
3/4 cup split urad
3/4 cup channa dal
1/2 cup toor dal
1 tsp whole methi (fenugreek seeds).
1/2 cup whole pepper
2 Tbsps whole dhania (coriander seeds).

Fry each separately in a skillet on medium heat.
Rai, methi, jeera and dhania need a few minutes only
Urad and dals take a little longer and will be light brown and smell good.

Shortcut: I do rai,methi, dhania and jeera in microwave for 10 seconds each while frying the dals stovetop.
If dhania and jeera are not done in ten seconds, I put them in for another 5 seconds.
Watch carefully as whole spices will start burning in the middle of the plate first.

Let everything cool, grind everything in a blender till really fine, cool again and store in an airtight container.
We made it after two years. I might refrigerate it this time to make it last a long time.

Masala 2

1 medium large onion
2 Tbsps fresh grated coconut.
1/2 tsp tamarind (this adds the required tang to the masala).

Broil one medium onion till outside is charred.
(30 to 40 mins on top shelf).
Peel black, outer layers and put inside in a blender jar.
Roast 1-2 Tbsps fresh grated coconut in oven or stove top till golden brown.
Watch carefully as it burns quickly in the oven.
Blend to a smooth paste. (the onion will release water so don't add any).

(I double this quantity too and freeze half of it for the next time).

The masala mix:

To the onion and coconut paste, add 1 heaping tablespoon of masala 1, along with red chilli powder and salt to taste.
Mix well.
Wash and let eggplant and potatoes dry on a paper towel.
Slit eggplant upto one inch of where the green sepals of the stalk begin.
Stuff masala between slits of eggplant taking care to keep it whole.

Halve potatoes.
Heat one inch of oil in a 10-12 inch wide skillet.
Put in potatoes, face down and let it fry till cut surface is golden brown.
Turn and fry for a minute or two on the other side.
(Potato does not have to be fully cooked...3/4 done is fine).
Remove and place in 9 by 12 baking dish. Sprinkle with a little salt when hot.

Remove extra oil carefully to another pan, leaving about 1/4 inch in skillet.
Put eggplant into hot oil, only one layer at a time, taking care to sear every side (brown lightly).
If needed, add a little more oil to pan with each set you sear.

Remove and place in dish.

Add garlic cloves to hot oil and let them soften on stove.
Add to dish.

Make sure eggplant and potatoes are in a single layer.

If there is masala remaining, and there usually is; put it on top of potatoes and eggplant.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 mins.

This dish comes out looking and tasting superb...decorate with green coriander if you want to but the colors look so great, the dish needs no garnishes.

Enjoy with garlic bread or naan or rice and dal.

The eggplant can be frozen, but the potatoes can't so I use less potato and more eggplant.
This dish can be refrigerated for a day (two at the most), but not longer.

When I had a veggie garden, I too prepared the eggplants, stuffed them, fried and froze them as I got so many eggplants from each plant. Now, I'm content just to do this blog.

5 comments: said...

Great job writing this down.
In the old days, Maharajas used to eat this on silver plates with LOTS and LOTS of butter!


lan said...

this sounds so delicious. i also like the freezing and using later part very much. love the color of eggplant. a bookmark for a nice veggie preparation when guests come calling..

lan said...

c'mon geeta where is the next one?

Mallugirl said...

this looks really good to me as i love eggplants. will try it asap.

lan said...

i made this today and only after finishing the 30 in bake i realized that i missed an important step in the process. i just only made slits in the eggplant which meant the stem part and the round end were in tact and the masala didn't go in all that well. i am supposed to slice through the slits except at the top i guess so it will hold together like a flower. correct? since i have some masala left and i still liked what i got, i'll try it again. hope you are doing well. happy holidays and a wonderful new year to you and yours.