Regular readers might be aware of my less-than-enthusiastic outlook when it comes to the edibility of aubergines (brinjals or eggplant, in other words). But there are plenty of people who DO like them - my mother and my husband, to name two. So I dont really mind making aubergine recipes for them. Just as long as nobody asks me to eat what I make, I'm happy.
I've seen various stuffed aubergine recipes on the Net, and all of them seem perfectly good recipes... but I thought I would try out my own combination of ingredients for the stuffing and come up with something slightly different. Mind, though, I probably wouldnt have considered peanuts as a stuffing ingredient had I not read so many posts in Indira's blog where she's used peanuts in so many ways!
I also pounded all the ingredients to a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle. It would have taken me all of one minute to do it in the dry grinder, but I decided to go the hard way and pound away for 10 minutes with the blessed mortar and pestle.
The only reason I did it was because I didnt want the peanuts and sesame seeds to get hot, exude oil and turn into a paste instead of a powder. (It can happen in a dry grinder because of the heat from the machine, as both peanuts and sesame seeds are oil-rich.)
Now I cant personally vouch for the taste of this recipe because I didnt try it, but it got a thumbs-up from my mother, for whom I made this dry-ish curry. In return, she kindly made me potato fry. Talk about perfect give-and-take!
Recipe for: Stuffed baby aubergines
15 small round baby brinjals with stalks
Pound or grind together the following ingredients to a coarse powder:
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 tbsp dry-roasted coriander seeds
2 tsp dry-roasted cumin seeds
½ tsp aniseed powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp sesame seeds (I used 1 tsp black and 1 tsp white)
1/8 tsp powdered methi seeds
Salt to taste
Mix with the coarsely ground powder:
2 tbsp finely minced shallots
Reserve 1 tbsp of this stuffing for the wet masala and use the rest to stuff the baby aubergines.
For the wet masala:
1 tbsp of the stuffing
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1. Cut off the stalks of the aubergines so that they sit level on their base. Dont remove the leaf-like bits - they help hold the aubergines together and are edible too.
2. Make two slits in the aubergines, like a "+" sign. Take care not to cut them all the way to the bottom.
3. Gentle separate one half of a slit aubergine with your left hand, and use a small spoon to put the stuffing in. Then open the other half and stuff that as well. Gently brush off any excess masala.
Continue till the aubergines are all stuffed.
4. In a flat wide pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Drop in the reserved dry masala and fry it for a minute or so.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes, a little salt and the ginger-garlic paste and stir it all in.
6. Arrange the stuffed aubergines carefully in the pan, making sure they dont fall over. The tomatoes will cook down to a paste as the aubergines cook.
7. Pour about 1/4 cup water carefully around the aubergines, then close the pan and let it simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes or till the aubergines are cooked. Check after 15 minutes to make sure that the tomato masala at the bottom has not dried out. Sprinkle a little more water if it looks like it might burn.
8. When the aubergines are soft and done, turn off the heat. Serve hot with chapaties.
Note: I removed each cooked aubergine carefully to a plate and added a couple of tablespoons water to the tomato masala in the pan, just to stir it up. Then I put the masala in a serving dish, arranged the aubergines on top again and served the dish.