Eggplant with Fragrant Spices and Herbs

Bhartha

2 medium globe eggplant (about 1-1/4 pounds each)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
salt to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped (to yield 2 cups)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small fresh green chile, such as jalapeño, cored, seeded, and minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
fresh lemon juice
fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Light a grill fire. Grill the eggplant over the open fire or gas flame, turning them frequently, until the skins are black and parched and the flesh feels soft when pierced with a fork, about 18 min. (Alternatively, prick the eggplant in several places and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 350°F oven until soft, turning two or three times, about 1 hour.) When the eggplant are cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin and put them in a colander to drain. Squeeze the eggplant gently to get rid of the extra moisture and chop the pulp. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and a little salt; set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the onion over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 30 min. Add the garlic, ginger, and fresh chile and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring a few seconds until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are soft, about 5 min. Stir in the eggplant pulp and the chopped cilantro. Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid in the pan evaporates and the oil begins to separate and forms a glaze over the mixture, about 20 min. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with more cilantro leaves.

Yields 5 cups; serves six as a side dish.



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