I must confess that I am not very imaginative when it comes to eggplants. So, when Sangeeta of 'Ghar Ka Khana' announced the JFI ingredient for the month of July -- Eggplants, I thought that I will take this up as an occasion to try out something new. But the problem is, I am not too adventurous when it comes to eating eggplants. So, even though I came across some really good recipes, I decided to settle for the tried and tested 'Bharli Vaangi' that my MIL makes. This is a typical Maharashtrian way of making this dish with just a little variation, and goes great with poli (chapati), bhakri (jowar roti), or rice. As far as my experimentation with eggplant goes, I have bookmarked several recipes and I AM going to try them out ! :)
Small eggplants 4
Minced or finely chopped onion 1/2
Daanyacha koot (Roasted peanut powder) 3/4 cup
Tilacha koot (Roasted sesame powder) 1/4 cup (optional)
Minced ginger 1 tsp
Minced garlic clove 1
Gul (jaggery) 1 tsp
Goda masala 2 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1/2 tsp or to taste
Mohri (mustard seeds) 1/2 tsp
Jeere (cumin seeds) 1/2 tsp
Hing 1/4 tsp
Halad (turmeric) 1/4 tsp
Oil 2 tbsp
The first step to making Bharli Vaangi is to make the masala to be stuffed in the vaangi. In a plate or bowl, mix together the peanut powder, sesame powder (if using), minced ginger, minced garlic, goda masala, cayenne pepper, halad and salt.
Next, make 4 vertical slits in each eggplant. Do not cut through the entire eggplant. Now stuff each eggplant with the above prepared masala. Keep aside.
In a kadhai or pan, heat the oil. To the heated oil, add mohri, jeere, hinga and a pinch of halad to make the fodni (tadka). Next, add the minced onion (I prefer minced onions because they give a good consistency to the gravy). Fry the onions till they brown. The browning of the onion lends a beautiful color to the dish (this is my variation to the dish). Now, add the stuffed eggplants to this and cook them for a minute or two.
Flip them and cook on the other side as well. Do not add water to this. Instead, cover the kadhai with a plate and on top of the plate, keep a vessel full of water, like this...
You can also put water on the plate itself. This is how my Mom and my MIL cook the eggplants. After a few minutes remove the plate and add a little bit of the water that was on the plate. Adding the warm water kept on the plate, reduces the chances of getting wrinkled eggplants. Also mix in the extra masala if any. At this point add the jaggery. Continue to cook covered with water on top. Check every few minutes and keep adding the warm water if needed. Once the eggplants are cooked, remove the covered plate, and adjust the consistency of the gravy. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.