I was privy to this conversation on twitter about how someone did not know what to do with Brinjals/Eggplants/Aubergines and that they had some still in the produce basket and I realized so do I. it’s a tricky vegetable with a strong flavor and tastes horrible if undercooked or not cooked properly and I am pretty much scared of this monster vegetable as well.
But then I chanced upon this recipe for this casserole in the book ‘Curry Curry Curry’ by Ranjit Rai. Aubergines and Cottage Cheese (Paneer) that’s the most unlikely pairing you are ever going to see. I made a few tweaks here and there, braced myself and said if it doesn’t turn out ok, it’s still going in the trash, so might as well give it a go. And the result was unbelievable. The house smelled good and the dish was an explosion of taste and brilliantly
What you need:
400 gms Aubergines / Brinjal / Eggplants (baingan)
3 -4 Medium onions
3-4 Tomatoes / 150 ml Tomato Puree (I use half and half)
200 gms Cottage Cheese / Paneer shredded
Oil (mustard/ vegetable/ olive)
Cut the Aubergines in medium thickness rings , mix about 1 teaspoon of salt in them and keep in a colander for half an hour. This helps in draining the Aubergines and also prevent oxidization of the vegetable. In the meantime, cut the tomatoes, put them in a bowl and mash them by hand since we don’t want pureed tomatoes and neither do we want whole pieces. It needs to be just mashed. Mix a tablespoon of store bought tomato puree in this. I find this combination works better than only tomato puree or only whole tomatoes, but you are free to just go with one of these.
Take 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a pan/ kadai , cut the onions into rings and fry them in oil till they are goldenish brown. Take them out and keep aside. Let the remaining oil be in the pan.
Take the drained Aubergines and fry them in the remaining oil for about 3-5 minutes till they are just almost cooked and slightly brown. Take the fried aubergine and keep it aside. In the same pan, with whatever little oil is left, put a teaspoon of coriander powder, salt and turmeric and after about a minute of frying this masala, put the Cottage Cheese in and cook for about 2-3 minutes.
Turn off the gas. (trust me on how many people need this instruction as well)
Preheat the oven to 180 degree centigrade. Take a glass baking dish and now assemble your casserole. Put a layer of aubergine and put the Cottage Cheese mixture and then another layer of Aubergine. Depending on the size of your dish you may have multiple layers.
The top layer should be aubergines. Now pour the tomato mixture on top and put the dish in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Take it out and spread the fried onion rings on top. And dinner is done.
It will taste heavenly and every flavor will blend with the other so well, that you will make this again.