I've owned my copy of Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery for about 26 years now, and in all that time, whenever I open the book it falls open at exactly the same page - at the recipe for "The Lake Palace Hotel's Aubergine cooked in the pickling style". I always thought it sounded like a great dish, and I guess it was always inevitable that I was going to make it one day. As it turned out, it was so awesomely good I'm just disappointed that it took me so long to get around to making it.
Now I must warn you, that like many other Indian dishes (and most "brown" food), this doesn't look nearly as appealing as it tastes. So, although this is not exactly a feast for the eyes, you're going to have to take a giant leap of faith when I tell you that this is probably my favourite dish I've made so far since I, and my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs, have been cooking with Madhur Jaffrey.
Madhur describes this dish as being "not unlike a spicy ratatouille", and she is exactly right. It does have a most unusual "pickled" taste. Madhur says this comes from the black onion seeds suggested in the recipe; but I didn't use those, so it's obviously not as simple as that.
I ate this as a meal on its own, with just some steamed basmati rice, but it would also make a great accompaniment to all sorts of other dishes. Madhur recommends it as being particular good with lamb, either Indian style or just simply roasted, and I can imagine that working really well. She suggests it is also good cold and served with cold meats.
The original recipe serves 6 people as an accompaniment. I adjusted quantities to make a main meal for myself, with a small amount leftover for the next day's lunch. Despite reducing the quantity of vegetables in this dish, I kept most of the spices as the original recipe. Also, instead of frying the aubergine slices, I opted for a healthier version, by roasting the aubergines slices in the oven. It's also a lot easier than standing over batches of frying aubergines.
This is my contribution to this week's Pot Luck theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and I certainly won't be waiting another 26 years to make this again.
Lake Palace Hotel Aubergines Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Madhur Jaffrey in
Makes 1 main meal with leftovers, or
Serves 2 as a light meal, or
Serves 3 as an accompaniment
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1x medium/large aubergine (about 350g (12 oz))
neutral-flavoured vegetable oil
2.5cm (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled & coarsely chopped
3x cloves garlic, peeled & halved
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1x large tomato, peeled & finely chopped (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F).
Cut aubergine into 1cm (1/2 inch) thick rings, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them all liberally with some vegetable oil and put into the hot oven. Once they are beginning to brown (about 10 minutes), flip them over and brush the other side generously with the vegetable oil. Return to the oven until golden brown - about another 10-15 minutes. Turn them again if you feel you need to. Remove from oven and set aside.
Now place garlic, ginger and water in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Heat some more vegetable oil (about 2 tablespoons) in a deepish frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil has heated, add the fennel and cumin seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to look toasty and smell fragrant, add the chopped tomato, the whizzed up garlic and ginger, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt. Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture reduces a bit and becomes like a thick sauce.
Add the aubergine slices to the pan, stirring gently to make sure all the slices are bathed in the sauce. Lower the heat slightly and cook very gently for about 8 minutes.
Serve over steamed rice, as a side dish, or cold as a salad.
Note: For ease of peeling a tomato - cut a small cross in the base of the tomato, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for about 30 seconds, remove and plunge immediately into a bowl of cold water. The skin will slide straight off.
If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.