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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Barli Vangi - Stuffed Baby Eggplant/Brinjal

I raked up the courage to go to my Indialand store today.. although it is in an unfamiliar neighborhood downtown, which means parking is a nightmare, I prepared a backpack and tennis shoes and decided to go through with it.  I needed a refill of all my daals and curry leaves which should keep me good for probably the next year.  I think I inherited this stocking up problem from my mother.  I definitely do have a bomb shelter in beans, lentils and rice, but there are just so many different varieties I can never just pick one!
As I was checking out, a lady behind me was holding some little yellow beauties.  "Oooh what are those?" I asked her.  "These are baby eggplants from Ivory Coast."
I pretty much dropped everything and dashed for those eggplants.  I lost my spot in a long long line but I have been fantasizing about baby eggplants for quite some time now.  I have scouts prepared to report back to me if they happen to see them.  I have seeds waiting to be planted when I move into my new house so I can just grow my own and stop having to look for them.  All this and for once I passed by and I hadn't even noticed them there.  I knew I would be stuffing them India style.  I'll eventually do other things with them, but I just wanted to stuff them this time.
As I started making this and setting up all my ingredients, I pulled out my bag of desiccated coconut only to realize I only had about 1/4 cup left.. and the original recipe called for 1 whole cup.  How in the world did I forget I needed coconut while being in Indialand stocking up on all the daals and spices I'd run out of??  I improvised and added some white poppy seeds to the mix.  To avoid losing the coconut flavor, I used 1 cup coconut milk instead of water for the broth.  I actually like the texture of it this way.. it's smoother.
Adapted from VegRecipesofIndia.
Serves 4
500g or 1lb baby eggplants, slit from the bottom with an X
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch asafoetida (hing)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup coconut milk (or water)
1 cup water
1 Tbsp tamarind
1/2 cup peanuts
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp white poppy seeds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 inch piece of ginger
5 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garam masala or goda masala
1/2 tsp coriander powder
pinch of salt
chopped cilantro for garnish
1.  Dry roast the peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and desiccated coconut until fragrant.  You can do this separately.  When cooled, grind into a powder.
2.  Make a paste by blending all the other stuffing ingredients together and then stirring in the powder.  Add a little water if needed.  It should not be liquidy.
3.  Stuff some paste into each of the eggplants into the slit.  I did not have any leftover paste and was able to stuff them well.
4.  Heat the oil in a wide heavy based pan.  Add the cumin seeds and wait until they crackle, then add the hing and listen for the fizz.  I like that part.
5.  Add the onion and cook until translucent, then add the tomatoes and place the stuffed eggplants into the pan.
6.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes, then carefully turn each one onto its other side and cook for another minute.
7.  Add the water and coconut milk along with a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, then add the tamarind and simmer, covered for about 30-35 minutes.
I served mine with some Maa Chole ki Dal and basmati rice topped with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

This was the perfect ending to an oh so interesting day...

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