Sweet and Sour Eggplant (version IV)

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2 1/2 pounds eggplant
4 to 6 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
Seasoning mixture:
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sugar

To prepare the eggplant: Turn the broiler to high and position a rack on the top level of the oven. Cut the eggplant crosswise at a slightly diagonal into oval slices about 1/3 inch thick. Lay as many as will fit on a baking sheet. You'll probably need to cook the eggplant in 3 batches. Brush lightly with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Broil until golden brown on one side. Turn the slices, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue broiling until golden and cooked through. Turn off the broiler and heat the oven to 350F.

Prepare the seasoning mixture. Put the cumin seeds into a small pan and toast, shaking and stirring over medium heat for about 1 minute, until the seeds have darkened and released their aroma. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool a moment, then stir in the lemon juice, salt, cayenne and sugar.

Lay the eggplant slices in a shallow baking dish, such as a 9 by 13 inch dish, overlapping slightly. When the bottom of the dish is filled, drizzle a third of the seasoning mixture over the eggplant. Cover with two more layers of eggplant, drizzling each layer with the seasoning mixture. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350F oven until the eggplant is heated through and the flavors have time to mingle.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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