Do you have recipes that you return to annually? I do, mostly because of an event or holiday (Tet! Thanksgiving!) or seasonality. This Indian dish is one I make when I can get excellent Indian eggplants from the Hmong farmers who come to our farmer’s market. The size of duck eggs, the eggplants are dense with thickish skins so they can hold the stuffing and not totally collapse into mushy nothingness after panfrying.
The recipe comes from one of my favorite Indian cookbooks, 5 spices, 50 dishes by Ruta Kahate. It’s a small book that shows you how to make good Indian food with only a handful of spices. Liberation. There are certain techniques that she teaches as well, which will take you far toward mastering Indian food. For example, heating up oil and letting spices aromatize in it is called tadka (aka bagar, chonkh, and phodni) and is a key part of the Indian kitchen.
I’ve been making this dish since I met Ruta in 2007, when her book came out. It’s easy and remarkably delicious. I’ve never seen it on Indian menus but it should be. No matter because you can make it at home. If you don’t have the eggplants (sold at Indian markets), substitute Japanese eggplants, she says.