The purple parade

The purple parade

The purple parade

Brinjal or eggplant is easily the most versatile vegetable. Be it bharta, curries or chutneys, brinjals are tasty in every form. What more, they are easy to cook and don’t demand too much in terms of spices. A powerhouse of magnesium, calcium, fibre and vitamins, these purple bulbs aid digestion, help control diabetes, boost memory, cure insomnia, prevent cancer and even make your hair stronger.

It is also a vegetable that suits both Indian and international cuisines well.

A Anuradha gives us a few recipes that celebrate this humble vegetable.

Stuffed Brinjals

Ingredients: 10 small brinjals, 2 finely chopped onions, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut, 2 tsps of red chilli powder, 2 tsps of sambhar powder, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 4 of tbsps oil, 2 tsps of mustard seeds, 2 tsps of cumin seeds, 1 tsp of asafoetida, some chopped coriander and curry leaves, salt to taste.

Method: In a bowl, mix chopped onions, tomatoes, coconut, coriander, red chilli powder, sambhar powder and salt. Slit the brinjals to make a plus sign, but don’t chop them completely. Stuff these slit brinjals with the spice mixture and keep them aside. In a pan, heat oil, and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder, curry leaves and sauté them. Add the stuffed brinjals to the pan. Fry for a minute. Sprinkle some water, lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let the brinjals cook till they become soft. Once the brinjals are cooked through, add the remaining spice mixture and cook for three more minutes. Adjust the seasoning, and garnish with coriander leaves. Enjoy it with hot chapatis or jowar rotis.

Baghara Baingan
Ingredients (for the paste): 4 tbsps of oil, 2 tbsps of groundnuts, 3 tbsps of dry coconut, 2 tbsps of cashew nuts, 2 tbsps of melon seeds, 2 onions, 2 tomatoes, 2 tbsps of coriander seeds, 4 cloves, 2 cardamoms, 1 cinnamon stick and 4 dry red chillies.

For the main dish: 10 small brinjals, 3 tbsps of oil and some for frying the brinjals, 2 chopped onions, 2 tsps of mustard seeds, 2 tsps of cumin seeds, 4 red chillies, salt to taste, chopped coriander leaves.

Method: To make the paste, heat oilin a pan and fry all the spices. Let it cool, and grind them to a fine paste. In another pan, heat oil. Add brinjals and fry them till they soften, and remove them. Heat some more oil in the same pan and add the chopped onions and sauté till they turn translucent. Now add the ground paste and fry till the raw smell goes. Lastly, add the fried brinjals and mix well. Make sure all the brinjals are evenly coated in the spice paste. Add some water if required, and cook for two minutes. Just before serving the dish, add a tempering (tadka) of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and red chillies. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Baingan Chutney
Ingredients: 1 large brinjal, 1 chopped onion, 3 chopped green chillies, 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste, 2 tbsps of oil, 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 1 tbsp of red chilli powder, few curry leaves, few chopped coriander leaves, 2 tsps of grated coconut (optional), 1 tsp of lemon juice and salt to taste.

Method: Wash the brinjal well. Place it on the gas stove and roast it till the skin is charred completely. Remove from the heat and let it cool before you scrape the skin off. You can either chop the roasted brinjal or mash it. In a pan, heat oil and add mustard, cumin and the curry leaves. Now add the chopped onions and ginger-garlic paste to the oil. Saute till the onions turn translucent. Now add the mashed or chopped brinjal, and sauté for a minute. Add red chilli powder and salt and mix well. Add the grated coconut. Cook for a minute or two and garnish with lemon juice and coriander leaves. Enjoy it with hot rice and ghee or phulkas.