Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stir-Fried Eggplant in Mustard Sauce

Begun-er Jhaal
Eggplant cooked this way is one of my favorite dishes for a number of reasons. First of all, it brings back memories of our idyllic childhood centered around Mum who managed to create the most delicious meals on a thrify budget. That one sentence describes two of life's most important lessons she taught us - to put money away for a rainy day and to be proficient in the kitchen. 

Secondly, we eat first with our eyes which is why the bright purple color of eggplant is so pleasing to our palates. And having eaten eggplant as very young children, this vegetable has grown to become a favorite over a lifetime.

Stir-fried with sliced onions and tomatoes and then wrapped in a pungent and creamy mustard sauce, it's hard to describe the intense satisfaction derived from combining this dish with hot & steamy Basmati rice or a fluffy chapati/tortilla.

Several varieties of eggplant are available in supermarkets, but for this dish I prefer to use Oriental or Japanese eggplant which have minimal seeds and a much sweeter taste than the large oval ones.

Shorshe Bata Begun

4 Japanese eggplant, cut lengthwise down the center & cubed
2 medium onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic paste)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 hot green chili, diced
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. shah jeera or cumin seeds
1 hot green chili, diced
2 Tbsp. black mustard seeds, soaked overnight in salted water with
   1 de-seeded dried red chili
1/4 tsp. sugar or to taste
1 hot green chili, diced (for garnish)
salt to taste

  1. Toss eggplant pieces with salt & set aside.
  2. Rinse mustard seeds (in a tea strainer) to remove excess salt.
  3. Blend mustard seeds with 1/2 cup water to a smooth paste.
  4. Heat oil in skillet on medium-high & sputter cumin seeds & 1 chili.
  5. Fry garlic & onions until onions turn translucent.
  6. Add eggplant, stir & fry until eggplant pieces are golden brown.
  7. Add tomatoes to skillet, followed by mustard paste and stir gently.
  8. Cover, simmer for 5 minutes & adjust salt & sugar to taste.
  9. Garnish with remaining diced chilies and serve as a side dish.