This is one of our family favorites. I started making this not very long ago. While the flavors are not new to me, but the way they come together in this recipe was a wonderful surprise to the palette.
It happened to be one of those times when I had to find out that “secret ingredient” right after the first bite. There was a large spread on the table, but there was a reason why everyone out there were going back to this one tray for second and third helpings.
The lunch prasad/offering at the temple is always a different kind of meal. The meal eaten with the mind, body and soul cleansed and purified after attending the Aarti and the service. The devotees in our temple have become family now, tied with the same goal in life. A place where we meet with similar intentions. People whom we can trust and love without barriers.
We walk out of the shrine, with the prayers and the perfume of the flowers and the incense sticks still lingering within us, into the garden of colorful bliss. Flowers, bird calls and peace envelope us. The stone laid path and sunshine lead us to the lunch hall and we are immediately greeted with a different kind of aroma. Warm nourishing food. Something more sensual, more physical. Smell of food. But it is still not the usual kind of the everyday food. Quite hard for me to describe, because it carries a quality within it which resides deep inside, only to be realized.
This dish had immediately aroused my interest when I nudged the tender pieces of eggplants with the serving spoon and place them on my plate. over hot rice rice. I was thinking it must be the traditional Bengali recipe where the eggplants are cooked in a yogurt and mustard paste. But one spoonful in my mouth and it told a different story. There was something very subtle which I could not decipher.
Every week, one devotee family cooks the lunch prasad for the temple. I quickly found out the ingredients for this recipe. I came back home and made it soon enough. But that was just about a year back. I have made this many times after that because it is one of those recipes on which we have an unanimous vote in the family.
A few days back I noticed the recipe in my draft folder. It had not been posted. There was not a single photos. This is a quick dish with not many ingredients. I usually make it just before our meals and I never got a chance to take any photographs. So this time when I made this again, I had exactly 13 minutes to take photographs. I got some. Just about enough to get this recipe out there.
Eggplant in Tahini and Mustard Sauce
Ingredients: (serves 4-6 as side)
- 4 medium Chinese/Asian eggplants or 1 large American Eggplant (about 8-10 inches long)
- 4 tablespoon oil pure mustard oil of any cooking oil +( 1 more tablespoon of pure virgin mustard oil – optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon kalonji/nigella seeds
- 6 hot green chilli peppers (more or less, adjust to taste) – slit
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (or cayenne or paprika) – adjust amount to taste
- 2.5 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds (or black for stronger flavors); I have used a mix of both
- 2.5 heaped tablespoon Tahini (or Sesame Paste) (recipe for easy Homemade Tahini)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (not to make it sweet; just for the balance of taste)
- about 1/4 cup water to make the paste + more water as needed for the sauce
Wash the eggplant and pat dry. Slice them 2 inches long (about 3/4 inches wide) or in cubes. Sprinkle some salt and half a teaspoon of turmeric and toss well. Allow the eggplant to sit/sweat for about 10 minutes.
Make a paste with the mustard seeds and 1/4 cup water. Whisk in the sesame paste/tahini and red chili powder, the rest of the turmeric and the sugar with the mustard paste and set aside. (If you do not have tahini, use lightly toasted sesame seeds along with the mustard seeds to make a mustard sesame paste).
Heat half of the oil in a pan (save the spoonful to drizzle). Add the nigella seeds and some of the slit chilli peppers (remove seeds and membrane carefully from the peppers if you do not want the heat; the fresh flavor is vital here). As the seeds sizzle and the peppers have brown blisters, add the eggplants and increase the heat.
Cook the eggplants while tossing frequently until they start to soften and brown. Most of the oil will have been absorbed by the eggplants. They would be about half cooked. Now add the rest of the oil, except the spoonful to drizzle and add the mustard tahini paste to the pan and toss everything together.
Cook at medium – low heat while gently stirring, preventing the paste from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the raw taste of the mustard and sesame is gone. Add about a cup (or maybe a little bit more depending on how much sauce you want) of water, give it a gently stir and partially cover to cook until the eggplants are done. The sauce should thicken and be able to coat the eggplants and have some extra.
Adjust salt. Finish of with a drizzle of pure mustard oil and more chili peppers if you want.
Serve hot over rice or with any flat breads.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: Less than 30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
Serves 4-6 as side
Related Posts: (more Eggplant/Aubergine/Brinjal Recipes)
- Baingan ka Bharta: Smoky and Spiced Eggplant Mash
- Baingan Patiala (Spicy Stir Fried Eggplants)
- Achari Baingain: Eggplant with Pickling Spices
- Methi Baingan: Eggplant with Fenugreek Leaves
- Harissa Stuffed Eggplants
- Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry
- Eggplant Caponata
- Eggplant with Tomato, Garlic and Mint
- Eggplant/Brinjal with Poblano Peppers
- Roasted Eggplant with Sun-dried Tomatoes