Today’s a soup kinda day. It’s -9 degrees and windy outside, this is what it looks like from my bedroom window.
I had also grabbed a bunch of spinach last night at the Asian grocery store and I’ve got plenty of canned beans in my kitchen drawer, so it should be an easy fix. But I’m writing about eggplant today.
I went through an eggplant phase in grad school where I added it to every vegetable dish I made. Sambar was incomplete without the mushy teal-skinned floaters, sometimes it was questionably matched into my garam masala-potato dish (tasted good only the first time). But a majority of the time I fried easy circles of it and had it with rice, like at home.
My aunt in Atlanta once made yummy Baingan Bharta for me when I visited her. I ate it with curd and rice at her place, then brought back a tupperware dish of it. I think I rationed it for a week or so, it was smoky and spicy with ample bits of charred skin and I didn’t waste one bit. So when Fall break came, I tried to make my own. I asked Samadipa and she told me, like the recipe, it’s tastier if the eggplant is cooked directly on the stove. But it’d be too messy on the stoves here so I seared it on all sides and then cooked it on a pan.
The version of Baingan Bharta I attempted then was probably a Lite one, cos all I had to do was scoop out the cooked flesh, mixed it with freshly chopped onion and coriander leaves and that was the dish. It was surprisingly tasty and my Bengali friend approved of the looks. There was a fair amount of the skin that inadvertently made its way into my final dish, but I think it only made it better.
Earlier this month on a slow day after Thanksgiving break, I decided to try making it again. This time I followed an oven-recipe that called for broiling the vegetable. I first made holes all over its skin with a fork and then rubbed it with oil, from my grad school recipe. There is zero mess in this recipe, the flesh comes off easily.
Honestly, it turned out less tasty than my basic coriander-onion-eggplant mix, there was hardly any smoky flavor which makes me think I should’ve kept some of that skin in. Have you tried this dish?
Also here’s an eggplant story that describes my 27-year old personality (not anymore at 28) : Once I walked into a Walmart on a cold winter night to buy an eggplant. I can’t remember why but cooking was most definitely the intention. So I grab one off the grocery section, walk into the self-checkout lane and wait. I’m soon overcome by self-consciousness, standing there with a single eggplant in hand – you’re somehow acutely aware of singlehood while shopping. You would’ve seen the size and girth of eggplants here above too.
So I walked back to the shelf, grabbed a bunch of cilantro that I didn’t need, and walked confidently in to the checkout lane again.
Weeks later I threw out the cilantro-gone-bad from my fridge.