This is an Indian recipe that we especially favor, since it contains eggplant, one of our favorite vegetables. In our family we are eggplant aficionados. We prepare it baked, breaded, fried, grilled, you name it. In this rendition the eggplant is flavored with yogurt. For the record, the recipe is from an Indian cookbook we’ve had for years, Flavors of India (Recipes from the Vegetarian Hindu Cuisine) by Shant Nimbark Sacharoff. It’s an oldie but good, copyrighted in 1972.
Note that, among the ingredients, the dish calls fr black mustard seeds. If you can’t find black mustard seeds in your area, then green mustard seeds (which are easier to find) will do.
The normal accompaniment to this dish is either rice, or roti, a delicious Indian flatbread found these days in most any Asian store.
BAKED EGGPLANT WITH YOGURT (OLA)
1 large eggplant (about 1½ pounds)
3 tablespoons yogurt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons peanut oil
¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 cloves chopped garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
Preheat oven to 350º. Wash the eggplant and pat dry with a towel. Place the eggplant on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When the eggplant is ready, it will appear misshapen and the skin will be very wrinkled and burnt. Carefully remove the eggplant from the oven. Put on some gloves or cover your hands with a kitchen towel so you do not get burnt in case the eggplant breaks open while you are handling it. Then let it cool at room temperature until it can be handled without gloves. Now peel off all the skin and place the eggplant in a bowl. Mash the eggplant with a fork until it forms a smooth pulp. In a separate bowl beat together the yogurt and water until they are well blended. Set both the eggplant and yogurt aside.
In a heavy frying pan heat the peanut oil over a low flame. Add the mustard seeds and the chopped garlic to the hot oil. When the mustard seeds have ceased popping, quickly add the mashed eggplant and then the salt, turmeric, cayenne, cumin and coriander. Mix the spices into the eggplant and sauté for 5 minutes. Now add the well-beaten yogurt and water mixture to the frying pan and stir for 3 minutes. Cover the pan and continue to cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. By this time the yogurt will be well mixed in with the eggplant pulp. Taste to correct seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with roti or rice.
Serves Two or Three