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Recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking
Put the ginger and garlic into the container of an electric blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of water and blend until fairly smooth.
Cut the eggplant into slices or wedges that are 3/4 inch thick and about 1 1/2 - 2 inches long.
Set a sieve over a bowl.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a deep, 10-12 inch 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 another 1/2 cup of oil to the frying pan and heat it. Brown a second batch of eggplant slices, just as you did the first. You will probably need to do three batches, adding fresh oil to the frying pan each time.
(You may now turn off the heat under the frying pan and let the eggplant drain for about an hour or you may proceed immediately with the next step. The idea is to get rid of some of the oil that eggplants absorb so easily. You will achieve this end either way, though I do think it helps slightly to get rid of the oil at the earlier stage.)
Put 3 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan and heat it over a medium flame. When hot, put in the fennel seeds and kalonji, or whole cumin.
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.
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.
You could also serve this dish cold, almost as if it were a salad. In that case, store it with all its oil in the refrigerator. Take it out of the oil only when you serve.
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