Monday, October 18, 2010

Msakaet al Bathinjan - Eggplant Casserole

This is a simple dish from Lebanon made using fried eggplants and chickpeas.I have adapted the recipe from here.Normally the eggplants are deepfried and then mixed into a thick gravy of tomatoes,garlic,chilli and onion to which dried mint has been added.I have pan fried the eggplants and also used tomato puree instead of peeled tomatoes and have obtained a hearty thick comforting dish which goes well with breads.

 
Ingredients:
Eggplant: 1 medium size sliced into rounds or half rounds as I did

Chickpeas: 1/4 cup soaked and cooked till done.

Tomatoes: 2 big, blanched,peeled and sliced or Tomato puree
Onion: chopped 1 medium
Garlic: 2-3 cloves  roasted /grilled/deep fried in oil - I used fresh garlic cloves.
Sugar: a pinch
Fresh Green chilli: 1-2 as per taste


Garlic: 1-2 cloves crushed along with little salt
Dried mint: 2 tsp or as per taste

Salt: as per taste

Preparation:
Presoak chickpeas and cook in the pressure cooker or stovetop till done.Keep aside.You can also use canned chickpeas.Cut the eggplant into bite size pieces -circles/half circles- and apply salt and keep aside for atleast 15 minutes.They will gove out moisture /bitterness as it is also known. Prepare a grill/oven /pan for grilling/roasting/panfrying them applying oil/spray.I pan fried them till they turned brown and cooked on both the sides.

Heat oil in a thick pan (casserole) ,add chopped onions and saute until transparent and soft.Stir in garlic and saute until it gets aromatic and starts turning brown. The recipe calls for garlic that is already fried in oil to be added to the onion and sauteed.Since we are already planning to sautee it,I did not think there is any need to previously fry the garlic in oil.So I have added chopped fresh garlic to the soft onions and cooked till brown.

Add in tomatoes/puree,slit green chillies,salt,dash of sugar and chicpeas along with aa little of the water in which they are cooked.If using the canned chicpeas,adjust the salt accordingly.Bring to a boil,reduce and let it cook for a few minutes,until the raw smell of tomatoes disappear.Add in the eggplant pieces and cook covered for about 10 minutes, until the eggplant absorbs the flavours.Add in crushed garlic cloves and dried mint as a garnish and cook for 2 more minutes.

Serve as a side dish preferably cold,but I enjoyed it warm as it goes well with rotis/breads/rice.


Th dish was simple and doable and the combo of eggplant-chickpeas is hearty.The dish can be garlicky but the dried mint refreshes the mouth.Adjust the chilli,mint and garlic according to taste.Normally I am vary of making such dishes where there is only one spice/herb - green chilli in this case along with heavy other items like eggplants,chickpeas,tomatoes etc as I feel the spice will be inadequate to spice it up entirely.Even in North Indian dishes for a combo like this,we use coriander powder,garam masala ,cumin powder, chilli powder etc inaddition to green chillies. So here I added 2 medium sized green chillies and was surprised to find that they are sufficient. The dish is spicy just by using chillies.Also I have not tasted/seen the original,but mine turned out almost 'gravyless' or very thick me.Do adjust the amount of water to get a gravy of your preferance.


The dish is my humble contribution to MM:Taste of Lebanon at Dirty Kitchen Secrets, an event by Meeta.

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