Another easy pleasure I discovered in Mrauk U, this eggplant puree, like many classic eggplant dishes, begins by grilling whole eggplants. The smoky-tasting, tender grilled eggplant flesh is then mixed with an egg and a little seasoning and briefly cooked again to a smooth, silky puree. It makes a great side with rice, slightly sweet (from the egg), and it’s also an appealing accompaniment for fish or grilled beef. Leftovers are delicious.

The recipe is so simple that it is tempting to make it more complicated. Please don’t.

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Ingredients

  • 3 medium Asian or 1 large Mediterranean eggplant (about 1 pound)
  • 1 medium or large egg
  • tablespoons Shallot Oil or peanut oil
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • About 2 tablespoons torn coriander or finely chopped mint (optional)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)

Method

Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-hot, or preheat the oven to 450°F.

Prick the eggplant(s) all over with a fork. Grill about 5 inches from the flame, turning to expose all sides to the heat, or place on a baking sheet and bake, until very soft, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Cut the eggplants lengthwise in half, then use a large metal spoon to scrape the flesh out of the skin; or you may find it easier to peel the skin off the flesh. Place the flesh in a bowl (you should have about 1½ densely packed cups), add the egg, and use a nonreactive fork to blend it into a puree.

Place a wok or a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl it a little. Add the turmeric, then toss in the chile and shallot. Cook for 10 to 15 seconds, then add the eggplant mixture and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, moving the puree around and around in the pan so that it cooks evenly without sticking and stays soft and smooth, for about 1 minute. Add the salt and stir again, then turn out into a shallow bowl. Take out the dried red chile.

Top the eggplant with the coriander or mint and squeeze on some lime juice, if you wish. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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