The eggplant tales continue
As far as possible, I like to write a story in my posts, however short it might be; just a little something to give a sense of purpose to the dish I post about. For this one, there just isn't much to say. The recipe itself is based on some random recipe from the web that I copied down years ago (hah, copied down?) and then it underwent some experimentation and changes until it established itself in my permanent repertoire.
It is a simple vegetable dish, that needs a few basic ingredients, and depends solely on the quality and taste of these vegetables and herbs to shine. The only dry spices used are mustard seeds and turmeric and I think one could even leave those out. It is a slight balancing act to make sure that both the potatoes and eggplant cook just right. If either of these gets cooked sooner, it could get mushier than the other. I like to make it with baby eggplants whenever possible, but in this picture I have used one white eggplant. The white eggplant worked perfectly here, because as mentioned in my previous post it holds its shape even when fully cooked.
Cilantro is by far the most common herb used in Indian cooking, usually chopped and added towards the end. This is however one of the few Indian dishes that I make in which cilantro is neither an afterthought nor the main ingredient as in cilantro chutney, and yet it plays a very solid supporting role with its own distinct flavor. It is also one of the few dishes in which the cilantro gets cooked with other things. I would encourage you to use as much as you can here.
Sadly, the dish doesn't even have a proper name to it, and I think the original recipe was called something very generic like green masala vegetables. So I call it 'Eggplant and Potatoes with garlic and cilantro', which is so descriptive that it could as well be a one-line recipe. What's in a name though, when the result is terrific. I like to eat it with fulka or poLI, just like any other sabjee, as part of an Indian meal, but it would be equally delicious as a stuffing for pita bread or other sandwiches.
4 baby eggplants (or 1 medium sized eggplant)
2 medium potatoes
1/2 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic
2-4 green chilies (depending on size and preferred heat level)
1/2 – 1 cup of chopped cilantro (not tightly packed, about 30-40 healthy stalks)
2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt to taste
Chop eggplant into quarters or sixths, lengthwise, and place in cold salted water. If using a large eggplant, slice about as thick as large fries (approximately 2 X 3/4 X 1/2 inches in size). Peel and chop potatoes into similar shapes and add it to the water. Slice onion into thick semi circles. Drain the eggplant and potato. Grind the garlic, chilies, cilantro in a food processor.
Heat the oil in a wide saute pan or wok, add the mustard seeds, and when they pop, add the turmeric, followed by the green paste, onion, eggplant and potatoes. Stir fry everything together on high heat. Add salt. Let the vegetables cook and change color, stirring occasionally. If required, place a lid on the pan and lower the heat when the potatoes turn golden. If the mixture starts to stick to the pan, add a tablespoon of water at a time and reduce the heat. Let cook for a few minutes more, and then just a little more more after turning off the heat. Pierce one of the potato pieces to check if it is cooked through.
Use any type of potato that will hold it shape after it is sauteed. I like to use either Yukon gold, White rose, or red potatoes here.
Cilantro is definitely the most used and favorite herb in my kitchen, and in general, in Indian food, and eggplant is an absolute favorite vegetable, so this makes a fitting entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging Two Year Anniversary at Kalyn's Kitchen, which is being celebrated with a collection of recipes that combine vegetables with herbs. This is my first ever entry to her event.