Food Talk
Baingan goes Greek
Pushpesh Pant

Brinjals or baingan to call them by their desi name are quite a popular vegetable. In North India they are relished as bharta and in Bengal the bhaja or beguni are the favourite. In Hyderabad, they prefer the smaller eggplant for the famous baghar ke baingan and elsewhere too in the Deccan and along the coast this preference is shared when chilly, coconut, tamarind-enriched recipes sizzle the palate. Its been a while since we encountered the musallam bharvan baingan, a truly regal delicacy, but we digress. Outside India too the vegetable is liked it occupies an important place in the Arab and Mediterranean repertoire. The Greeks fashion a delightful moussaka, blending brinjal, cheese and mince meat that can at a pinch serve as a pleasing one-dish meal. This time we share a recipe inspired by the Greek classic that is unabashedly Indian in spicing and treatment. The cooking eschews all bothersome grilling and baking. The only touch of the exotic is the olive oil.

Method

Slice the baingan into half-inch thick slices, sprinkle with salt and keep aside for 15 minutes. Grease a thick-bottomed pan with a film of oil and pan-grill the baingan slices in batches till light brown. Turn once carefully. Keep aside. Heat some more oil in the pan and add cloves to it. When these change colour, add garlic cloves and garlic-ginger paste. Stir-fry for 20 seconds and put in the tomatoes, onions and the powdered spices along with the salt. Continue frying on medium flame till masala is mushy. Add keema or soya granules. Cook on medium flame for five minutes. Gently place the brinjal slices in the pan and coat with the masala and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add cheese spread in bits, distributing it evenly everywhere in the pan. Remove and transfer to a serving plate.

Desi Moussaka

Ingredients
Large round baingan One
Large onion One (peeled and chopped fine)
Medium-sized tomatoes Two (washed and chopped)
Cloves of garlic Three or four (peeled and crushed)
Ginger-garlic paste 1 tsp
Cheese spread 2 tbsp
Mincemeat /soya granules 100 g

Leftover keema works fine, otherwise brown the keema in a little oil and keep aside. If using soya granules, soak these in warm water and drain before use

Cloves Two
Jeera powder 1 tsp
Dhaniya powder 1 tsp
Red chilly powder tsp
Garam masala tsp
Salt to taste
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Green chillies 1-2 (optional, for garnish)





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