Thursday, October 16, 2003

Stuffed Brinjal Recipe


I'm no vegetarian, but I eat vegetarian meals all the time. Vegetables like mushrooms or eggplant are so "meaty" they make great vegetarian meals. I especially like to go vegetarian when I have Indian food. There are so many great veggie dishes in Indian cuisine I find I really don't miss the meat.

A few years back I shared an office with Lulu, who also happens to be a fabulous cook and a vegetarian. She's from India and her knowledge of cooking is so different from mine that we've learned a lot from each other. A western cook and a Southeast Asian cook, a meat eater and a vegetarian, we both shared a passion for experimentation in cooking and for spicy food. When work was slow, we would spend hours chatting about recipes and researching our next meals. Eggplant entrees were often on each of our menus.

This past week I found an Indian supermarket and felt compelled to buy several exotic items including fresh curry leaves and small round Indian eggplants. Realizing when I got home that I had no idea or what do with either of those purchases I asked Lulu for some suggestions. In addition to bringing me a bag full of spices, here are the two recipes she gave me, one for eggplant and one for coconut rice to serve with the eggplant:

Stuffed Brinjal (Indian eggplant)

Ingredients

1 1/2 tsp curry split peas dal (channa daal)
1 1/2 tsp urud dal
1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
whole red peppers to taste

10 small round Indian eggplants (brinjal)
salt to taste

Instructions

Fry the spices in one spoon of oil and grind it into a thick paste using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Cut 10 small brinjals diagonally so that the stem portion of the brinjal opens up. Stuff the brinjal with the ground paste. Heat oil in a fry pan and add the brinjals, keeping the stove at low heat. Close the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. See that it is not deep fried. Serve hot.

(Note from Amy: I wasn't able to grind the spices to a paste but the recipe still worked for me, I used a butter knife to pack the spices into the eggplants. I also added about 1/3 cup of water for the last 5 minutes of cooking to soften the eggplant without too much oil)

Coconut Rice
3 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urud dal
a pinch of asafoetida
2 whole red peppers
1 cup grated coconut
2 cups of cooked basmati rice

In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds, when it pops add urud dal, a pinch of asafoetida and red peppers. To this add grated coconut and fry lightly. Mix in cooked basmati rice and mix well.

(Note from Amy: Watch out when the mustard seeds start to pop, they go all over the place! be prepared by using a deep pan and having a lid nearby)

Thanks Lulu!