Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Indian Eggplant Dip

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

I've tried eggplant a few times, but I never really know what to do with it.  By the time I get around to using it, it's past its prime, bitter and has a spongy texture.  When someone gave me several eggplant last week, I was determined to put them to use.  I roasted some and made baba ganoush.  (A dip similar to hummus but with eggplant instead of chickpeas.) Then I started slicing, grilling and layering eggplant and zucchini for a casserole.  Even after making these, I had eggplant left to use.  As my recipe search continued I came across several weird recipes featuring eggplant.

I decided to forgo the chocolate eggplant recipes and went with this recipe for baingan bartha.  Personally, I'm not super into Indian food, but perhaps I just haven't tried the right thing yet.  With high hopes of changing my mind on both Indian food and eggplant, I set out to make this Indian eggplant dish.  I'm not really sure what to call it; dip, spread or sauce all seem to work.  Traditionally it would be served with flat bread such as naan.  The naan will have to wait for another time as I used the last of my flour before my trip and haven't made it to the store yet.

Those of you who like Indian food will enjoy this aromatic dish.  Deep, fragrant flavors meld together for a warm, spiced blend typical of Indian cuisine.  Garam masala is a spice blend frequently used in Indian cooking.  The exact spices vary depending on the region and cook but typically include cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, black pepper and cardamom. The intense orange-yellow color comes from ground turmeric. Keep in mind that it may stain plastic or rubber utensils a bright shade of yellow.  Only time will tell how long my food processor boasts this new color.

 My palate still hasn't adjusted to the unique spice blends of Indian cuisine, but that may change over time as well.  As far as eggplant goes, I liked the method used here of roasting and broiling.  Next time I have eggplant to use up, I'll likely roast it again.

Indian Eggplant Dip
adapted from Eat, Live, Run

1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise
1-1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 hatch chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp lemon juice

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place eggplant on foil-lined baking sheet and and sprinkle flesh with salt. Brush with 1 tsp olive oil and roast, skin-side-up, 30 minutes or until tender.  Turn oven to broil. Flip eggplant and broil, skin-side-down, 5 minutes or until flesh is golden. When cool enough to handle, remove a good portion of the seeds.  Scoop flesh out of skin and set flesh aside.
* In a large saucepan heat remaining 1 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add chili pepper, garlic and ginger; saute 5 minutes longer or until tender.
* Stir in remaining 1 tsp salt, garam masala, cumin seeds and turmeric. Cook 1 minute longer.
* Add roasted eggplant flesh and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes.
* Let mixture cool slightly before transferring to food processor. Add lemon juice to mixture and process until smooth.  Serve with naan.

Food for Thought: "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -E.E. Cummings

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