This is a favorite recipe of mine, and a comfort food. I have no idea what its ethnic origins really are, but the spicing firmly places it on the Indian sub-continent. I learnt the recipe from a graduate student in Medieval Arabic Studies whose mother was Parsi and father Italian Jewish, I think. What I'm saying is, this might not be an Indian dish at all. Every good cook inherits recipes from his or her family and peers, and the mis-remembering of those recipes becomes one's own culinary heritage or the projection of one's imagination on the culinary landscape. If I count it out, this recipe is at least three steps removed from any sort of grounding in its native location. And I know that I've forgotten and rediscovered my notes on it twice. We can't go so far as to declare New Haven an Indian state, but as far as I'm concerned, this dish originated there, as we ate this twice a week in the Winter of 1999 while I crashed at a house full of grad students.
Of course, I've made a few changes to the notes I rediscovered yesterday. But this is (now) the definitive recipe. There has always been a couple of weird things about this recipe, not the least of which is the wonderful syllabic repetition of EGGs and EGGplant. The garam masala is added and cooked, which changes its taste into something darker (normally it is a finishing spice). And I'm calling for Spanish smoked paprika to increase the smoky flavor of the eggplant and give a little more golden a color.
- Bring a pot of water to boil enough to cover the eggs. While waiting for the water to boil,
- Roast the eggplant on a gas burner directly over the flame until the skin is charred all over. Set in a covered bowl to steam.
- Add the eggs to the boiling water. Bring back to boil, and allow to boil 5 minutes. Then remove the pot from heat, cover, and let sit.
- Mince the onion. Chop and press the garlic. Grate the ginger.
- Remove the charred skin from the eggplant. Chop the eggplant pulp and reserve any liquid that runs off.
- In a large cast-iron skillet (or wok or karahi), melt the ghee/butter/oil. Add onion and turmeric, sauté until the onion is translucent.
- Add the garlic, ginger, half of the garam masala, the smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, and amchur to the pan. Stir over heat, then add the eggplant pulp and any liquid. Stir to blend, reduce heat to medium.
- Peel the hard-boiled eggs. Carefully score the whites with three longitudinal lines using a shark knife or scalpel.
- Add maybe 1 tsp red chili flakes and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the eggplant mixture. Stir.
- Bury the hard-boiled eggs in the eggplant mixture so that they touch the pan and are nearly covered.
- Cook another 5-7min, then carefully turn the eggs. Taste for salt-balance, add lemon juice if necessary.
- Cook another 5-7min, taste again, and serve.
You remembered to put on a pot of basmati rice, didn't you? or are you adept at making chapati? I like a spot of raita with cilantro on the side, maybe use one of those fancy smoked salts in the raita. This is a fairly protein-centric dish, but it could go well with a dal. Or maybe Cauliflower and Potatoes in Tomato Sauce.
This recipe is similar in technique to baigan bharta, but the spicing is rather different (also, eggywegs). sneff's smoked eggplant describes the technique of charing the eggplant to roast it. And Zzzzzzippp's hard boiled eggs gives decent advice on peeling the chicken stone fruit.
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