I love aubergines and with Indian cuisine there are so many ways to cook this wonderful veg. My local shop stocks a variety of them including baby aubergines which are perfect for frying, grilling, stuffing and cooking some gorgeous curries.
This is one recipe I’ve been yearning to share for a while. Not a huge amount is known about Kashmiri cooking. It dates back to the 1500’s with Taimur invading India bringing in its cooking and food influences. The region has the best of both sides of the country in terms of where the techniques and flavours hail from including those across the Himalayas. There are various ways of preparing meals within this northern region of Kashmir which I have shared here.
Eating a Kashmiri wazwan (feast for the eyes and belly!) is a thing of beauty and an experience. It is a royal banquest that takes hours of preparation with an elaborate meal. Something I always remember fondly through my travels in India. The spread that’s typical of the cuisine showcases some of its finest dishes and those that are not very well known. There are a variety of dishes including Tabak Maaz, Rista and khubani ka halwa all wonderful and with complex flavours and spicing.
As much as the cuisine is known for their meat curries, equally loved are the vegetarian dishes including this gem of a recipe for Kashmiri Khatte Baingan made with a fried onion paste, tamarind for sourness and spices. The key in this dish of course for the ‘khatta’flavours comes from the tamarind although ground ginger and fennel are synonymous with cooking Kashmiri dishes. My recipes is slightly longer than most of the locals who have cooked it for me previously. Although, this hails from my childhood friend whose maternal family are from Kashmir and have always cooked some of the best dishes I have ever eaten. The use of fried onion paste (in my opinion) gives the curry a lovely consistency and richness while adding a touch of sweetness. You don’t have to puree the onions you can just fry them while cooking the curry to speed up the process but it does make a difference as the sauce really clings on to the aubergine and flavours the veg well through the slits made. As always regular reader will note; in my recipes it is essential to check the strength of the tamarind paste you use. If it is weak you will require a touch more than I have suggested. Devour in this curry with soft chapattis or pulao. Although I feel its best cooked for a dinner party alongside other curries and will undoubtedly delight your guests!
In a frying pan heat oil and add the onions. Fry over a medium flame stirring well making sure they don’t stick to the pan. As the onions begin to change colour keep cooking them for 25-30 minutes. Cool the onions and add to a blender along with the water. Make a thick smooth paste and set aside.
In the same frying pan add 1 tbsp of oil over a medium flame. Add the aubergines and fry for a minute. Turnover and seal for a further minute. Turn heat off and leave to rest while you make the curry.
Add the coriander powder, mild chilli powder and turmeric to a bowl along with 50mls of water. Mix well to form a spice paste and set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil over a medium flame in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Add the asafoetida along with the whole spices. Fry for a few seconds. Now add the tomatoes and fry until they begin to soften for 8 minutes.
Add the blended fried onion paste and continue to fry for 2 minutes. Add the spice paste along with the ginger powder and stir well for a minute. Now add the fennel powder and continue frying for another minute.
Add water, bring to a boil and add the tamarind paste. Season to taste. Simmer the curry with the lid on for 3-4 minutes over a low heat stirring well. Now add the aubergines and continue to simmer with the lid on for 12 minutes. Make sure to stir half way through cooking making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with pulao or roti.