Roasted eggplant replaces cucumber in this raita

The Whole Dish podcast: Cooling condiment complements chickpea curry

Since garden eggplants started to outpace me in August, this blog and a recent podcast, have chronicled my ongoing efforts to roast and freeze them.

The end result is most often baba ghanoush, hummus’ milder, silkier kin. Then there’s pepper spread, particularly handy when I have lots of peppers to roast, too. Just when I thought I’d all but reached my exploration of cooked and frozen eggplant with a couple of casserole recipes, I ran across an iteration of Indian raita that was just right for a meal of vegetarian curry, rice and naan bread.

I had intended to add a few puny eggplants directly to the curry. But it already was a fall-into-winter melange of zucchini, tomato, butternut squash and onion, with chickpeas for protein and heft.

Idly browsing some Indian recipes to inform myself on spices, I saw the following recipe, courtesy of Tribune News Service. It neatly solved the problem of how to make raita in the absence of garden cucumbers. And I already had all the other ingredients on hand, even fresh mint, which has started to proliferate again in the cooler weather.

To top it all off, of all the dishes at the table, this one was gobbled up. My husband, who typically does not favor Indian food nor eggplant in many cases, heartily praised it and helped himself to seconds, thirds and fourths!

Try it with the last of the season’s eggplants or your freezer stash of roasted flesh.

Tribune News Service photos

Roasted Eggplant Raita

1 large (1-pound) eggplant, skin on

1 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (not nonfat or low-fat)

1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, white and tender green parts only

1/2 teaspoon peeled and finely chopped, fresh ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño chili (optional)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro or 1 teaspoon dried mint

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pierce the eggplant all over with a knife or fork. Place eggplant on prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until eggplant is shriveled and appears to be very mushy. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Peel eggplant with your fingers and discard peel and stem. Place eggplant in a large bowl and mash flesh with a large fork or potato masher, or finely chop with a knife.

Place the cumin seeds, if using, in a small frying pan on high heat. Using a wooden spoon, stir cumin for 1 to 2 minutes, or until dark brown. Immediately add seeds to eggplant. If using ground cumin, add to eggplant without toasting first.

Add the yogurt, scallions, ginger, coriander, salt, jalapeño, if using, and cilantro or mint. Stir with a spoon, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 to 3 days (in an airtight container) before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Vij’s at Home,” by Meeru Dhalwala and Vikram Vij.

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