I’ve seen this dish on the menu at several Indian restaurants. Ever since the potato was introduced by the Portuguese in early seventeenth century, Indians love for this vegetable has also grown. It is often added to most North Indian style vegetable dishes. What I find interesting is that the South was kind of far removed from foreign influences so much so that it took a long time for the so called “Western” vegetables to be incorporated into mainstream South Indian cooking. Sorry for my digression.
More to the point of aloo baingan – this is a lovely vegetarian dish that is not too chilli hot, yet very flavourful.
I roasted the eggplants for a bit so they retain their shape and don’t fall apart.
250g red onion, finely diced
4 plump cloves of garlic
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ to ½ teaspoon hot chilli powder
Generous bunch of coriander stems and leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons sunflower or other vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a small baking tray with paper.
Dice the eggplant into even sized chunks. Line the eggplant pieces in a single layer. Sprinkle salt and pepper and place in oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Peel the potatoes and cut into even sized chunks similar in size to the eggplant pieces. Place potatoes in a microwave proof bowl, add 60ml water and cook for 4-5 minutes tossing them at half way point. Drain excess water and set aside.
Cut an ‘X’ a centimetre by centimetre on top of the tomatoes. Place them in a bowl and pour boiling water until tomatoes are submerged. Hold for 30 seconds and remove tomatoes. Peel off the skin and chop them fine.
Finely chop the coriander leaves and stems.
Peel the garlic and use a Microplane to grate finely.
Heat the oil in a kadai or wok. When hot, fry the garlic for 20 seconds. Adjust heat so as not to burn the garlic. Add the onions and green chilli. Fry onions for three minutes. Toss the coriander leaves and stems. Continue frying and when you can smell the coriander leaves, put the turmeric and chilli powder. After a minute, stir in the tomato paste, salt and sugar. This will become a thick paste almost difficult to fry but important to keep mixing as you don’t want it all sticking to the bottom of the kadai.
Add the chopped tomatoes along with 100mls of water. Continue to cook the sauce for 5-6 minutes and it will thicken slightly.
Mix in the eggplant pieces and potatoes. Cook for a further ten minutes without the lid on medium heat.
Taste and adjust seasoning. If there is too much liquid, then continue cooking for a further five minutes. Serve with rice or rotis.
Serves 4-6 as part of an Indian themed meal