Using local ingredients and produce has always been at the helm of Gujarati cooking. A primary vegetarian state in the west of India, with an abundance of pulses, grains and vegetables, it’s no surprise that eating a Gujarati thali can remind you of how fantastic Indian vegetarian cooking really is. Everyday cooking in most gujarati households is simple yet full of flavour and so good for you. The variety stems from street food, snacks to side dishes and aromatic curries. A home cooked meal is balanced with lentils, wholemeal bread, gravy dishes and rice. I spent a day at my friends place during my trip to India a few months back learning the flavours of Gujarati cooking and also finding out more about spices, techniques of cooking and also striking up a conversation with so many wonderful people from the community. The day ended with some of the best food I have ever tasted including a recipe for a shaak as part of the thali.
‘Shaak’ essentially a vegetarian dish that can made with potato (bateta nu shaak) or even fenugreek leaves (methi nu shaak). I am sharing a really simple recipe for a Aubergine and potato curry also known as ‘Ringan batata nu shaak’. Using mustard seeds is typical from this region of India and so is the addition of a little sweetness to the curry with the inclusion of jaggery; unrefined Indian sugar which gives it the sweetness but also has a lovely treacle flavour. Served simply with soft rotis and some raita. It’s a great mid week vegetarian meal and perfect even for vegans looking for Indian recipes to make part of their lifestyle.
In a heavy bottom non-stick large saucepan heat the oil over a low flame. Add the black mustard seeds as they begin to pop add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Let it fry for a few seconds.
Now add the dried chilli and ginger paste. Fry for 20 seconds stirring well. Add the diced potato and fry for a minute. Add the chilli powder and turmeric powder mixing well.
Add the diced aubergine along with the cumin and coriander powder. Stir for a minute. Add 200mls water and simmer for 4 minutes over a low heat with the lid on. Add the chopped tomato, chilli, jaggery and season to taste.
Stir well and continue to cook over a low heat for 12-14 minutes with the lid on. Stir half way through cooking. Leave to cool slightly and garnish with coriander. Serve warm with chapatti, raita and pickle.