I may have the spelling wrong but the cooking of this very tasty aubergine shak is spot on. It’s normally served as a side dish but I like to gobble it up as a main. In appearance, it’s similar to baba ghanoush but is much more spicy! However, don’t be tempted to overdo it as the glory of this dish is light spicing to enhance the smoked aubergine flavour.
- 1 large aubergine (350g)
- 2 tbs groundnut oil plus extra for oiling aubergine
- 1 large onion (80g), diced very finely
- 1 very ripe tomato, roughly chopped. Optional. Can be left out
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
- 1 green chili, sliced finely
- 1 tsp rye/methi seeds (fenugreek/mustard seeds. Don’t worry if you don’t have fenugreek. Also can substitute cumin seeds)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp dhana jeeru (coriander cumin powder)
- 1/2 tsp hurder (turmeric)
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- Coriander to garnish
The aubergine is smoked before it is added to the shak. To do this,
- Wash the aubergine then dry skin with a paper towel
- Cut a slit in the aubergine lengthways (2nd picture below), then rub all over with oil. Don’t chop off the stem as that will be handy for handling it in the grill
- Place on a baking tray and cook under a very hot grill. It is possible to roast it in the oven but I think the grill gives a particular smokey flavour so this is the preferred method. The skin should char and the aubergine begin to deflate as the water it contains is cooked out.
- It will take up to 30 minutes to fully cook. Turn the aubergine so that it is chars equally on all sides, about every 9 mins.
- The aubergine is ready when a knife slides in easily (By this stage, it will be very flat and should feel as if there is nothing in the skin!)
- Wait for the aubergine to cool before handling. Scoop out the innards and mash. Discard the charred skin and stem
- And for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of the onion, garlic and chili chopped in preparation
- In a large pan, heat the groundnut oil over medium heat
- Add rye/methi and wait for the seeds to start popping
- Add onion and cook until translucent and browning at edges. This can take up to 10 minutes. It’s important to cook the onions well so don’t rush this stage
- Add garlic and chili and cook for 2 mins
- Add prepared aubergine and stir to combine well with onion/garlic mixture
- Mix in the spices. Remember don’t be heavy-handed here…subtlety is what we are after in spicing
- Stir in the tomatoes if using and stir all to mix well
- Turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Stir regularly to ensure that it has not stuck to the pan.
The tomato is optional as without it the flavour of the smoked aubergine really shines through a bit like baba ghanoush but it’s also tasty with. Entirely up to you.
Once cooked, garnish with coriander and serve with rotlis.
The dish can be enhanced by adding spinach (after garlic/chili phase to let spinach wilt down before adding aubergine), or roasted red pepper (peel skin off, and chop pepper flesh into small pieces. Add at same time as aubergine)