Eggplant with Sesame Seed Sauce

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 white onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon water
2 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
8 small japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise, cut side scored
2 cups canned vegetable broth
chopped fresh cilantro

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 12 minutes. Add chili powder and next 4 ingredients. Cook until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Mix in garlic, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves. Set aside. Cook sesame seeds in medium skillet over medium heat until golden, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Transfer to processor; grind to coarse powder. Add 3 tablespoons oil, onion mixture, 1 tablespoon water and ginger; blend until mixture forms paste. Season with salt. Spread 1/3 cup paste over scored side of eggplants (reserve remaining paste in processor). Steam eggplants, paste side up, until tender, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, add broth to remaining sesame paste in processor; blend well. Transfer to small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to sauce consistency, about 8 minutes. Transfer eggplants to plate. Spoon sauce over. Garnish with cilantro.

Makes 8 (appetizer) servings.



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