html xmlns:og='' xmlns:expr=''> Lounging at the Waldorf: Eggplant


Saturday, August 18, 2012


I went to India once, but only for a few hours. Allow me to explain.

A friend of mine's mom is a diplomat. She is a Consul General of India, to be exact. When you speak to her, you can call her Your Excellency and when you go to their house, wherever in the world she is stationed, you are technically on Indian soil. So this is how I came to be in India for a few hours some years ago. It was India on East 64th Street.

A group of us were invited to lunch and part of the heavenly spread was a otherworldly fried eggplant created by a man named Bula. Served with tomatoes and cumin-yogurt, it was spicy and creamy and sent everyone at the table into embarrassing amounts of ecstasy. 

As I'm sure you're already aware, consuls are stationed in different locations every few years. When the time came for Your Excellency and her staff to leave New York, Bula was kind enough to share his eggplant recipe with me. 

Now that I'm older, fried isn't always wiser. So now I bake the eggplant and I call it...

Heavenly Eggplant of East 64th
1 large eggplant
Olive oil
Kosher salt
1 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
¼ teaspoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup yogurt

Chapter 1
Slice the eggplant half lengthwise. 
Take the tip of your knife and score the flesh diagonally, making two or three long cuts. You want your knife to go about halfway through. 
Now rotate the eggplant and score in the other direction so you have a diamond pattern. 
Press on the edges of the eggplant halves to open the cuts. 
Sprinkle a ½ teaspoon of salt over each half. Make sure to get salt into the cuts. 
Set eggplant aside, cut side up, and let sit for 30 min.

Chapter 2
Heat the oven to 400°F. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Over the sink, gently squeeze the eggplant to extract the salty juice. 
Wipe dry with a paper towel.
Drizzle eggplant with olive oil, 2 teaspoons per half. Make sure to get oil into the cuts.
Arrange each half on the parchment lined baking sheet, cut side down. 
Roast for 1 hour.

Chapter 3
Heat frying pan over medium flame.
Add 2 teaspoons olive oil. 
Add onions, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, hot chili powder, and salt to taste. Cook another 5 minutes. Set aside.

Chapter 4
Roast cumin in a frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
Remove from heat and sprinkle into yogurt. 
Set aside.

Chapter 5
Remove eggplant from the oven.
Let cool before handling, about 15 minutes.
Gently turn the cut side up revealing soft, caramelized flesh.
Top with tomato mixture.
Drizzle with yogurt mixture

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