Recipe Project #143-44: Indian Fries and Stuffed Baby Eggplants

We’ve been cooking a lot of Indian lately, and so of course we’re reading a fair amount of Indian cooking blogs. Mr. Husband stumbled across The Colors of Indian Cooking, and it’s a delight. Written by an Italian screenwriter in LA, it makes Indian cooking wonderfully accessible — and as you might expect, it’s extremely well written. Reading it alongside a canonical dose of Madhur Jaffrey makes for a long, long list of things to cook.

I assumed that Indian Fries had to be an American thing, but when we mentioned it in passing to our friend Sharif, he swooned a little and said that we had to make it pronto. And he was right. These are fabulous on their own, and I’m thinking they’d also be good served at breakfast alongside curried scrambled eggs.

Indian Fries from The Colors of Indian Cooking:

Peel a half-pound of Russets, and cut then into strips.

In a deep pan or skillet, heat 1 and 1/2 Tbs of vegetable oil on high. When the oil in the pan is just starting to smoke add in 1/2 tsp of cumin seed and 1/2 tsp of mustard seed.

When the seeds start to sizzle and pop, add 1 seeded and finely chopped serrano chili and the potatoes. Stir everything around well so that the potatoes are well-coated with the oil. Keep cooking them at this high temperature for about 4 minutes. The potatoes will start to crisp and brown on the edges.

Now, add in 1/2 tsp of salt (or more to taste) and 1 Tbs of ground peanuts. Mix everything around well, then turn down the heat and cover the pan. Cook everything for another 10 minutes or so until the potatoes start to brown further. Take the lid off the pan occasionally and give everything a whirl. The potatoes should be nicely golden at this point.

Take them off the heat and then give them a squirt of lime and a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro. Don’t skip the cilantro unless you really must — it puts the whole thing over the top.

Stuffed Baby Eggplants from The Colors of Indian Cooking
(also known around our house as Eggplants in Bondage:

This dish is easier than it sounds, provided you have some kitchen twine on hand. I used a couple of long Asian eggplants that I picked up at the local Eastern Supermarket. If you get your hands on some sliced almonds, whir them in a spice grinder or small food processor and you’ll have ground almonds. You just soak, stuff, tie, and sautee, and that’s that. Serve alongside chana dal and roti, and you’ve got an amazing and filling dinner. I cut the recipe down to serve two people one eggplant apiece, but the original is meant to serve six people 1-2 small eggplants.

Six or 12 small eggplants, depending on size.
3 Tbls of blanched slivered almonds, ground
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/4 tsp of cayenne
1/2 Tbs of lime juice, assuming you don’t have amchoor powder.
1/2 Tbs salt

Cut the eggplants lengthwise, almost to the top but not all the way through. Stop about a half inch from the stem part. Soak them in a pan of cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and dry them.

Combine the ground almonds, coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, lime juice or amchoor, and salt. Smear it on the insides of the eggplants, and then push the halves together and tie them with kitchen twine at each end so that they hold their shape while cooking.

Heat a few tablespoons of peanut oil in a heavy skillet, and then toss in a thinly sliced round of ginger. When the oil is good and hot, add the eggplants and cook then until they’re shiny and starting to brown. Then turn the heat to low and slowly cook them until done. The original recipe estimates 20 minutes, but it may take less.

When they’re as soft as you’d like them to be, remove them to plates, snip their bindings, and sprinkle them with some finely chopped cilantro.

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