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Servings: Serves 6
We would never use that much oil. We simply browned the eggplant in a small amount of oil and didn’t use the sieve.
A 1-inch cube of fresh gingerroot, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup water
1¾ pound eggplant (1 large or 2 small)
About 1½ cups vegetable oil*
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
½ teaspoon kalonji or whole cumin seeds
3 medium tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like)
About 1¼ teaspoon salt
Put the ginger and garlic into a food processor. Add ¼ cup water and blend until fairly smooth.
Cut the eggplant into slices or wedges that are ¾-inch thick and about 1½ to 2 inches long. Set a sieve over a bowl. Heat ½ cup of oil in a deep frying pan or saucepan over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in as many eggplant slices as the pan will hold in a single layer. Let them turn a reddish-brown color. Turn them over and brown the opposite sides. Remove the slices and put them in the sieve. Add more oil and heat; brown a second batch of eggplant slices. You will probably need to do three batches, adding oil to the frying pan each time. (You may now turn off the heat and let the eggplant drain for about an hour or you may proceed immediately to the next step.)
Put 3 tablespoons oil in the frying pan and heat it over a medium flame. When hot, put in the fennel seeds and the cumin seeds. As soon as the fennel seeds turn a few shades darker (this takes just a few seconds), put in the chopped tomato, the ginger-garlic mixture, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes, breaking the tomato pieces with the back of a slotted spoon. Turn the heat up slightly and continue to stir and cook until the spice mixture gets thick and paste-like.
Now put in the fried eggplant slices and mix gently. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring very gently as you do so. Cover the pan, turn heat to very low and cook another 5-10 minutes if you think it is necessary.
If you follow the instructions using all that oil, oil will have collected at the bottom of the frying pan. Use a slotted spoon to lift the eggplant out of this oil when you serve.
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