I am heads over heels for eggplants. Before I tried this dish I had only had eggplants in Greek and Italian dishes, which basically means that in my head, eggplant went with ingredients like olive oil, rosemary, thyme, basil, olives and flakey sea salt. When I tasted this Indian eggplant fry for the first time I thought to myself ‘Wow.. Can eggplant taste like this?’. Nigella seeds, fennel and the spicy punch from the chili, cayenne pepper and black peppercorns gives this eggplant a magical taste. If you are an eggplant lover, try this out!
4 medium sized eggplants
3 dl. Vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic
2,5 cm (1 in) piece of ginger
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
One can of tomatoes, or 400 grams of fresh tomatoes.
Cut each eggplant into 4 pieces and sprinkle them with salt and leave them for 30 minutes. This will help the bitter juices to run out. Wash the eggplants and pat them dry with paper towels. If using fresh tomatoes, score a cross in each of the tomatoes and plunge into boiling water for 15-20 seconds and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Peel the tomatoes and discard the seeds and stem.
Grind the black peppercorns using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, and mix with the chili powder, cayenne powder, paprika and turmeric. Add the spices to the tomatoes (or canned tomatoes). Add ginger and garlic and blend until a smooth paste.
Put a pan over medium heat and add some of the oil. Fill the pan with as many eggplants as possible (one layer!), and fry them on both sides until brown. Once browned transfer to a colander or a sieve placed over a bowl so excess oil can drain off. Add more oil to the pan when frying the next batch.
After all the eggplants have been fried add the excess oil back to the pan. Add the fennel seeds and let them fry for 20-30 seconds. Then add the nigella seeds and the tomato paste. Cook until thick and add the eggplants. Let it cook for 2 minutes and serve with rice and dhal.