Gujarat aubergines and tomatoes

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Aubergines and tomatoes are a popular combination in many of the countries I have visited. Even if you are not cooking an Indian meal, this dish is good as an accompaniment to fish or chicken, as part of a vegetarian meal, or even as a pasta sauce.

Ingredients

  • 3 large aubergines
  • 3 medium onions
  • 2-3 fresh red chillies
  • 600 g small ripe tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 2 rounded teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 rounded teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 level teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • small bunch of coriander, trimmed
  • sea salt, black pepper

Method

Heat the grill to its highest setting. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and grill them, skin side up, close to the heat source, until the skins have blackened and cracked, and the flesh inside is very soft.

Meanwhile, peel, quarter and thinly slice the onions. Cut open the chillies lengthways under running water, remove the seeds and stems and finely slice the flesh crossways. Halve or quarter the tomatoes, according to size.

Scoop the flesh out of the blackened aubergine skins with a metal spoon. Chop the flesh roughly, crumbling on a small piece of the blackened skin.

Heat the groundnut oil in a large, deep frying pan over a fairly high heat, add the sliced onions and stir around until well browned. Then add the mustard seeds, fennel seeds and sliced chillies and stir for another 2-3 minutes before sprinkling in the ground coriander, cumin and turmeric.

Now add the tomatoes, sugar and water, and continue to stir over the heat for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add the chopped aubergine flesh and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and leave for a minute or two to reheat the aubergines.

Wash the coriander, pat dry and tear the leaves from the stalks. Chop the stalks, stir into the aubergine mixture and cook for a minute or two. Chop the leaves roughly; stir most of them into the mixture too. Transfer to a heated serving dish and sprinkle the remaining coriander leaves on top.

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