Beingan Bharta

1 large eggplant
1 green chili pepper, thinly sliced
1 pinch asafetida, optional
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
vegetable oil, for frying

The eggplant should be grilled first to give the dish a nice smoky flavor. You can do this either by putting the whole eggplant on an outdoor grill and turning a couple of times, or you can grill it on a gas range. First remove the stems and leaves so they won't burn. Put down some tin foil in the well of the burner to catch the juice which will come out. Place the metal burner on top and grill the eggplant directly on it. The outside of the eggplant will burn as the inside cooks, turn it frequently.

Once cooked, let it cool until you can comfortably handle it. Peel the skin off--this should be easy because it is burnt, but if a little bit of skin sticks, that's fine.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan or wok. Don't let it get too hot, though--because you want the heat on low as you add the mustard seeds. Let the seeds pop gently in the oil, then add the onion. Fry until translucent. Add the eggplant, asafetida, green chili, and salt. Fry for 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro about a minute before serving.

Enjoy with flat bread (naan or chapatis) or plain old pita.

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