Begun Pora (Rich Roasted Eggplant)

Karen Haigh
Very tasty strongly flavoured eggplant dish!
Originally From The Flavors of India by Bharti Kirchner

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kalonji seeds (also called jeera, tastes like onion)
1 to 2 whole green chilies
1 cup onion, finely chopped (about 1 medium onion)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon seeded, minced fresh green chili
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Chopped cilantro
Chopped green onions

Smoke or roast the eggplant: Hold the eggplant over a low open gas flame. Rotate the eggplant 90 degrees every few minutes or so. The skin will gradually darken, the eggplant will start to sag, and you will notice a pleasant smoky smell. After about 20 minutes or half an hour, when the skin is completely charred, remove the eggplant from the flame. This step can be done by broiling or roasting the eggplant in the oven, but you will not get the same smoky flavour which makes this dish so good. Allow the eggplant to cool, then discard all of the skin, chop the flesh then mash with a fork.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Fry kalonji seeds and whole green chilies for a few seconds, then add onion and fry until it is richly browned but not burnt. Add chopped green chili, turmeric, salt, sugar and tomatoes. Simmer, covered, until tomatoes disintegrate into sauce, about 10 minutes.

Add the eggplant and simmer, covered, at least 10 minutes to blend flavours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes to help develop flavours. Add cilantro & green onions. Mix and serve.

Like most Indian dishes, this is one that improves drastically with age. I usually make it the day before the meal & then reheat just before serving.

From the Dinner Co-op