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When Eggplant Is More Than An Just An Emoji! Diwali Feasting in The Time of A Pandemic. Part 2…

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We grow a LOT of what we eat around here. One of my favorite vegetables is eggplant. In my Italian-American family we ate a LOT of eggplant. It was cheap and extremely versatile. We put it in sauces, on pizzas, we Parmed it, and it was always a great meaty substitute for the real deal when  things were tight and payday seemed a million miles away. 

Each year I plant about 3 or 4 different varieties of eggplant. I plant round Thai eggplant, little finger eggplants, classic Italian eggplant, Chinese eggplant and of course, Indian eggplant. I love all of them and while most can be switched up to cover almost any recipe, one of my favorites is the Japanese eggplant. I thought I’d had it a million different ways and then 30 years ago I started cooking Indian food and discovered another million ways I’d missed. Then a Year ago I was given a Homdoor Tandoori Oven and for the first time I cooked eggplant tandoori style. Wow!

This is a very simple dish, using a few basic spices, no marinating, just a salt soak for the eggplant, and you’re done. It can also be roasted on the grill… but hey… once you try this out of a tandoor oven you’ll not want to go back. I used Japanese eggplants for this dish but you can use any sort, just cut it to shape.

 

Tandoori Eggplant

Here’s What You Need:

3 Japanese eggplants,  cut into 1 and 1/2 inch wedges.

1 Tbs of vinegar… but NOT Red Wine Vinegar. This recipe calls for something different. I’d recommend, Malt Vinegar, Coconut Vinegar, Banana Vinegar, or what I used…. Pineapple Vinegar from Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo

1 cup of thick Greek yogurt 

2 Tbs tomato paste

1 Tbs grated fresh ginger

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 and 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil

1 red onion cut into thin slices

1 tsp sugar

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

fresh mint leaves

lime wedges 

 

Here’s What To Do:

Cut the  eggplants into 1 and 1/2 inch chunks. Place them in a bowl, sprinkle with 2 Tbs of salt and let the eggplant sit int the salt for 1 and 12 hours. this removes any bitterness from the eggplant. 

After it’s salt nap, take the eggplant chunks and rinse the salt off thoroughly.

Pat the eggplant pieces dry and let them set a bit while you mix up the marinade.

Mix up your vinegar…

…tomato paste…

…ginger…

…turmeric…

… paprika and oil…

…and blend all of  it into the yogurt…

…brush your skewers with oil…

…and thread the eggplant pieces on to the skewers.

This is when I lit my tandoor, you want the heat hot hot hot for cooking these. They cook very quickly. The Homdoor Tandoor gets super hot quite fast. If you’re using a regular BBQ you want to light it up about now.

While your fire is getting to the right temperature, time to pickle the onions.

Take your red onion rings and place them in a bowl with the white wine vinegar,  sugar, and 1 tsp of salt.

Stir everything around and let the onion slices cure while you are cooking.

When your Tandoor, or grill is at about 400 degrees F, time to get cooking.

Baste the eggplant chunks with the yogurt marinade…

…and angle the skewers into your tandoor oven, or place them on the grill

Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Rotate the skewers so they cook evenly on all sides.

After about 5 minutes or so check them if you’re using a tandoor oven.. these things cook FAST. On a regular BBQ grill it might take between 10 and 20 minutes. There’s no set time, it depends on the heat of your fire.

When they’re cooked through and nicely charred, take the eggplant out of the tandoor.

Get ready to serve it up.

Slide the eggplant chunks off the skewer

Serve them with the pickled red onion slices, and a scattering of fresh mint.

Squeeze a lime wedge over the eggplant and you are good to go!!!

this is so easy and quick that I know it’s going to be a tandoor staple around here since I have so many eggplants. You can serve this with any meal, American or Indian cuisine. It’s a great addition to any sort of BBQ, and if you want to make a total tandoori meal, add more veg dishes, rice, and chapattis for a vegetarian meal. This is also the perfect veg side dish that compliments any entree meat or fish.

  I served this with  tandoori chicken

a cucumber and dal salad 

… chapattis…

…and of course….dessert, also cooked in the Tandoor, that is coming up next! Tandoor Pineapple with rose pistachio ice cream. A nearly all Tandoor meal, so stick around, Diwali starts on  Nov 14th, there’s going to be alot of good eating around here, even if it’s just us this year. Follow along on Twitter at @kathygori

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