Indian Eggplant in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Indian Eggplant in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Happy New Year 2019, Friends!

As I sit here writing my first blog post of 2019, let me tell you that I am also simultaneously fighting a very strong case of jet lag. I was away on a 3 weeks long vacation to India and Dubai, eating Thaalis and Shawarmas and visiting family and relatives all the while on antibiotics. I feel disoriented, lethargic and homesick and I am back in Canada with a very persistent cold and….some holiday weight. “Acchooo!” 

Thanks to my mom and my husband’s mom, I was almost beginning to forget how to wash dishes or even cook during this trip but I sure did master the art of eating! It felt great to be pampered but at the same time I am glad to be back in my kitchen where I can cook, taste, twirl, taste some more and continue cooking at my own pace. It felt relaxing to cook yesterday until my back began to hurt after 6 hours of standing and cleaning. Jetlag can make you work slow, very slow. Imagine a slightly disoriented person cooking for her husband or writing a recipe for a public blog. How much do you trust the accuracy of my instructions or measurements at this moment? Don’t worry. I will be double checking my recipe when I feel balanced and before publishing this post.

Moving on. We had so much meat on this vacation that my husband and I unanimously agreed to go vegetarian for a while. I was so sure I would not be wanting to eat anything Indian for a good period of time but guess what I cooked today? Yes, three undeniably Indian dishes. I guess that is what homesickness can do to you. Also, it is an irrefutable fact that the world’s best vegetarian recipes are from India.

This is my first time making this recipe; which was given to me by my sister-in-law on visit to India. It is usually eaten with Biryani but it also goes great with Pulao or even Roti. The best part about this dish is that it needs zero onion chopping. Zero! If you have not cooked Indian food before let me tell you that there aren’t many dishes that require no onions. Consider yourself lucky if you stumbled upon this recipe because I am about to make your Indian food cooking experience a bit easy. I had carefully saved myself two vacation days to get over jet lag after my trip and before starting work. The house was quiet and I had the kitchen all to myself. I think yesterday was when I truly appreciated my kitchen island. I had the recipe open on my phone and I took my sweet time in cooking this dish, partly because of the jet lag. My whole cooking experience resembled a graceful waltz; simple but elegant and  relaxing. Remember Monica from Friends? How she cleans when she is stressed, excited or just for fun? That is how I feel about cooking. Okay. Enough of wittering and time to get recipe writing. This is a fuss-free and quick recipe. It might look time-consuming but it was a short process. Note on Sambar powder: you can buy this from any Indian grocery store. I usually go for pre-packaged brands that contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients.

Vegan, pleasantly nutty and perfectly balanced with the right amount of sweetness, spiciness, saltiness and tanginess. I am not sure if getting these flavours right is an art or a science. Anyhow, hats off to the creator of this recipe. After trying this dish, I am convinced that I have just scratched the surface of India’s bountiful onion-less vegetarian delicacies.

Indian Eggplant in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Serves 8
Prep time 7 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 32 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 8 Indian Eggplants (or any Eggplant cut into quarters)
  • 1 tablespoon Tamarind Paste
  • 1 tablespoon Sambar Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon Jaggery (or Brown Sugar)
  • 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Oil
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Sea Salt

To grind

  • 3 heaped tablespoons Peanut
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds

Directions

Dry roast the peanut, sesame and fenugreek seeds in a skillet for 3 minutes on medium-high and grind them into a powder.
Partially slit the eggplants into 4, leaving the part attached to the stem intact. This is purely for aesthetic reasons.
Heat oil in a pan and splutter the curry leaves and peppercorns.
Bring the heat to a medium and add the sambar and turmeric powders and stir for 20 seconds.
Note: The spices can burn very easily on high flame.
Add water immediately, followed by jaggery/brown sugar, tamarind, salt and eggplants.
Cover and let this simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplants are soft.
After 15 minutes, stir in the ground peanut powder and chopped cilantro.
Finally, cook for another 5 minutes to help thicken the sauce and serve.
Note: Add more water if you want a thin sauce or vice versa.

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