Eggplant Pilaf (version II)
4 cups unpeeled, diced eggplant (about 1 medium)
For the Raita:
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons turmeric
pinch ground cumin
1 onion, finely diced
1 cup finely chopped leek (1 medium)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups rice (preferable basmati)
3 cups boiling water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup yogurt
1 1/3 cups unpeeled, finely diced english cucumber
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint or 1 tablespoon, dried
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
In a bowl combine yogurt and cucumber. Stir in mint, lemon juice and oil. Season to taste with salt; mix thoroughly.
Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle garam masala on the surface (do not mix in). Let rest unrefrigerated for 30 minutes and serve.
For the Pilaf:
Place the cubed eggplant and salt in bowl; add cold water to cover. Mix well and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil over high heat for 30 seconds. Add salt, black pepper, turmeric, cloves and cumin; stir for 30 seconds. Add onions and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add chopped leek and continue stir-frying for 1 minute. Add garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Add rice and stir-fry until grains are shiny, about 1 to 2 minutes. (Don't worry if the spices start to scorch on the bottom of the pan; the next addition will cure that.)
Add boiling water, and pull pot off heat as it sizzles and splutters for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low; return pot to heat, cover tightly and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Then remove from heat but do not uncover. Let rice mixture rest for 10 minutes to temper.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat 1/4 cup oil over high heat for 1 minute. Drain eggplant cubes and add to the oil (carefully; there will be spluttering). Fry for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring and tossing actively, until all the cubes have softened and have started to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
Fluff the rice and add the fried eggplant, folding from the bottom up to distribute the eggplant, as well as the onions and leeks that will have risen to the top of the rice. Transfer to a presentation dish and serve immediately with a side bowl of Cucumber Raita as an accompaniment.
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