From The New Tastes of India, Das Sreedharan, Headline, 2001.
When I read this recipe I was uncertain of it right from the start but, oddly, it was that uncertainty that made me want to make it.
I took an eggplant (aubergine) and cut it into quarters, slicing from the round end down to the base but leaving the base connected so that the four sections of the vegetable were still joined. I now added a little oil to a wok and placed the eggplant in it and fried it for about 5 minutes, turning it every so often in order to ensure it was cooked on all sides. It was then left to cool.
I now made the stuffing. About 50g desiccated coconut was placed in a pan with a tablespoon oil, about a teaspoon urad dal, a tablespoon cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, 2 dried red chillies and some salt. This was stirred over heat until the coconut was golden. It was then taken off the heat and blitzed in the blender with a little water until it formed a rough paste.
The eggplant was now stuffed with this mixture. I could hardly call it stuffing as there was really no pocket in which to place the stuffing. It was more a matter of coating the sections of the vegetable with as much of the coconut mixture as would hold.
Now a tablespoon yellow mustard seeds, a teaspoon cumin seeds, a teaspoon urad dal, a sliced green chilli and 4 curry leaves were dropped into a little hot oil in a wok. When the mustard seeds began to pop the eggplant was added, the heat reduced, and a cover placed over the wok. The eggplant was now cooked for another 5 minutes, turning it carefully occasionally.
I can’t say I was really over impressed with this dish. Where the eggplant cooked through thoroughly it was not too bad, the stuffing was flavoursome and there was a little bit of crunch left in the toasted coconut, but there was an occasional patch where the vegetable had not cooked totally—and eggplant is quite unpleasant when this occurs.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔✔