Roasted Eggplant and Sweet Pepper Raita

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro or mint, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 medium eggplants cut in half lengthwise
1 large red bell pepper, halved and seeded

Preheat the broiler.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, scallions, cilantro, and seasonings. Set aside.

Prick the eggplants' skin with a fork. Place the eggplant and pepper cut-side down on a baking pan and, when the broiler is ready, roast the eggplant and pepper beneath the heat until the skin is charred and crackles when touched and the flesh is tender. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Scrape or peel off the charred skin of the eggplant and pepper and discard. Chop the eggplant and blend into the yogurt mixture. Finely chop the pepper and whisk into the yogurt mixture. Serve the raita (warm or cold) as a vegetable dip, sandwich spread, or over a baked potato. It makes a natural accompaniment to almost any curry dish.

Notes : If you desire a piquant raita, add 1 to 2 New Mexico chilies or other seasonal chili peppers. For a milder taste, replace the bell pepper with 1 chopped cucumber (skip the roasting, of course).

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