Preparation / Directions:
This expensive restaurant dish is easy to make at home. Although it is found in both northern and southern India, it is prepared very differently in each region. The following recipe is the northern version.
Brush eggplant all over with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Preheat the broiler, prepare a charcoal grill or place the eggplant directly over a gas burner. Cook, turning occasionally, until the skin is completely charred and the pulp is soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool briefly. Slit open and scoop pulp out onto a cutting board. Chop coarsely.
Heat remaining oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mustard and cumin. When seeds pop (takes about 1 minute), add onion, turmeric and chile. Stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato, eggplant and curry powder. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Garnish with cilantro.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Variation: In southern India, eggplant is roasted, peeled and allowed to cool. Yogurt (about 1 cup per 1-pound eggplant) is stirred in to make a creamy mixture, then the dish is seasoned with turmeric, mustard and plenty of fresh curry leaves. It is served as a cooling salad alongside spicy dishes.
Laxmi Hiremath writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, 6/24/93.