Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby aubergine cooked with pickling spices

I still haven't made it out of Bengal and onto the GTR proper. The other night we had our friends from across the road (Sergio and Simon) over for supper, and decided to double up and invite our new neighbours from across the landing (Alistair and Rhona) who by complete coincidence are friends of Sergio and Simon. The world, as we Spaniards say, is a handkerchief.

I decided to make this aubergine curry. I have been making a version of this for nearly 30 years, as it is one of my favourite recipes in Madhur Jaffrey's BBC Indian Cookery. Her version has the splendid title "The Lake Palace Hotel's aubergine cooked in the pickling style", but I have to say that this version (from Food of Grand Trunk Road by Anirudh Arora and Hardeep Singh Kohli), made with baby aubergine, was even better. I have to confess to simplifying it a little.

1 kg baby aubergines
vegetable oil
1/2 tsp panch phoran
4 green chillies
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsps amchoor (dried mango powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps muscovado sugar
2 tbsps of chopped coriander leaves


  1. Slice the aubergines lengthwise but not all the way through, so that they are still joined by the stem and a bit of flesh at the top.
  2. Heat plenty of oil in a non-stick pan and fry the aubergines gently until they are almost cooked. Remove from pan.
  3. In the same oil (remove some of it if there is too much, or add some more if most has been absorbed by the aubergines!), add the panch phoran and fry until it crackles. Then add the green chillies and the onions and fry gently until the onions start to brown.  
  4. Add the chilli, coriander, amchoor, garam masala, turmeric and salt, fry for 30 seconds or so, then add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 10 minutes, until the oil begins to separate out.
  5. Add the friend aubergines, lemon juice and sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, adding a little water if too dry.
  6. Sprinkle with coriander leaves.

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