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Indian Vegie Feast #5 – eggplants, crushed mustard seed and yoghurt

eggplant, crushed mustard seeds, yoghurt

eggplant, crushed mustard seeds, yoghurt

The first time I made this dish it was so bitter it was inedible. I’ve made loads of other recipes from Madhur Jaffrey’s book “Eastern Vegetarian Cooking,” they’ve all been delicious, what had I done?

I turned to “Spice Notes” by Ian “Herbie” Hemphill to try to understand more about the spices I had used, their characteristics, interactions and what can go wrong. I knew the answer would be in this gem of a book.

Firstly I read about mustard seeds and was amazed to discover that the cracked seeds need to make contact with water to activate the enzyme that creates the familiar pungent mustard flavour. Step 2 of this eggplant recipe then made sense. There was no mention of bitterness.

After I had checked on the mustard seed I began ticking off the spices in the panchphoran* mix, fennel, cumin, nigella and fenugreek. I suspected that fenugreek was the culprit, it’s known to be bitter but I’d already picked out several to minimize the amount in my tablespoon measure, however I learned that while fenugreek needs to be toasted to reduce bitterness, if you allow the seed to get too brown, it intensifies the unpleasant bitter taste. I know I made the seeds a toasty brown!

The second time around I was very cautious. After I had added to seeds to the pan, I followed Madhur Jaffrey’s instruction implicitly, “only stir once” before adding the eggplants.

This dish is a delicious surprise. I liked that the eggplants were cooked in water, they were silken in texture and once the yoghurt was added, creamy, and I really enjoyed the pungent mustard flavour.

*Panchphoran is a Bengali 5 spice mix made of equal quantities of cumin, fennel, nigella, mustard and fenugreek seeds.

Eggplants, Crushed Mustard Seed and Yoghurt – serves 6 with other dishes

1 large eggplant approx 500g

1 1/2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon crushed red chilli

2 tablespoons mustard oil

1 tablespoon panchphoran

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup natural yoghurt

generous grinding of black pepper

Wash the eggplant and cut into 3cm x 3cm cubes.

Grind the mustard seeds in a mortar and pestle, empty them into a bowl then add 250mls of water.

Heat the mustard oil, add the panchphoran and stir once.

Immediately add the mustard seed mixture, eggplants, chilli and salt.

Bring the liquid to the boil then simmer until most of the water has evaporated.

Add another 250mls of water, turn the heat to low, cover the pan tightly and simmer for 15 minutes or until the eggplants are soft.

Remove the lid, increase the heat and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated.

Turn off the heat and allow the pan to rest for 5 minutes.

Gently stir in the yoghurt, adjust the salt and add a generous grinding of black pepper.

Transfer to a serving bowl.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

16 comments on “Indian Vegie Feast #5 – eggplants, crushed mustard seed and yoghurt

  1. Tracey O'Brien
    March 23, 2017

    Delicious! Eggplant is one of my favourite things to eat. What a great dish.

    Like

  2. StefanGourmet
    March 23, 2017

    Looks great and will have to try this, although I’d probably start out with only half of the spices.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 23, 2017

      Don’t hold back too much Stefan, the spices are an important part of this dish, the mustard especially. Just be cautious with how you handle the fenugreek

      Like

      • StefanGourmet
        March 23, 2017

        I’ve only toasted fenugreek once, and won’t be repeating that for sure. In the untoasted state I don’t find it bitter

        Like

  3. lulu
    March 22, 2017

    Something a little different which works for me since I’m crazy for Indian food.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 22, 2017

      Hi Lulu, it’s easy to see the historical link between India and the Middle East in this dish, enjoy…

      Like

  4. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    March 21, 2017

    Oh, this sounds heavenly scooped up with a bit of freshly baked naan! I generally skip fenugreek in recipes because (as you say) it is bitter and very tricky to get right. Aubergines at the end of their season can also be bitter – particularly if you notice a lot of little dark seeds when you cut it open. Thanks for the tips on spices – sounds like a real gem of a book.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 22, 2017

      In all the years I’ve been making Indian food, this was the first time I got caught out by fenugreek. It is a delicious dish and worth making. Spice Notes is a great reference, written by Australia’s premier spice merchant, well worth shelf space

      Like

      • Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
        March 22, 2017

        Ian Hemphill’s book might be called “Spice & Herb Bible”, at least in the UK. It’s contents includes “Spice Notes”, so I’m assuming it is the same. Just ordered it. Tempted by his “Spice Travels”…

        Liked by 1 person

      • ladyredspecs
        March 22, 2017

        Just took a peek I think they’ve updated the title with the latest edition. My Spice Notes is a few years old. When I was a young cook Herbie’s Mum was considered the local herb guru. Ian is Oz’s spice guru

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Eha
    March 21, 2017

    Thank you for the ‘warning’ as I really love the sound of this dish and have e’thing at home. Well, have to mix my own panchphoran as mine out of date. Back to MY ‘Spice Notes’ ! Did you know Ian Hemphill is planning on another Kerala tour early next year. I missed the last one and am seriously considering . . .

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      March 22, 2017

      I hope you enjoy this one Eha, it’s a bit different. I subscribe to Herbie so was aware of his tour. I buy all my spices from him direct, they are the best and freshest in the land.

      Like

  6. chefkreso
    March 21, 2017

    A lovely dish with a few ingredients, sounds yummy 🙂

    Like

  7. Lisa @ cheergerm
    March 21, 2017

    I imagine it’s quite unctuous, almost like a dip? Love silky and creamy eggplant.

    Like

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