Know Your Eggplant: Indian Baigan Bhaja

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You can never have too many Indian cookbooks. That's the best way to increase your repertoire of this delicious, vibrant, vegetarian-friendly cuisine (and the best way to avoid the take-out menu). Pick up a copy of recipe developer and YouTube host Chetna Makan's new cookbook and add a few more go-to dishes to your line-up, like this delicious fried eggplant dish known as baigan bhaja. 

These pakoras are spiced with nothing other than salt, turmeric and chili, yet the flavor is outstanding, no doubt due to the beautifully tender aubergine encased in a crisp, tasty coating. Pair them with chutney.

Reprinted with permission from Chai, Chaat & Chutney

Know Your Eggplant: Indian Baigan Bhaja
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Chetna Makan's new cookbook is packed with brand-new dishes for your Indian line-up, like this delicious fried eggplant dish known as baigan bhaja.
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  • 1 eggplant
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • sunflower oil
  • Coriander and Spinach Chutney and/or Tomato Chutney
  • 5 1/2 ounces chickpea flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 pint water
  1. Cut the aubergine vertically into thin slices with a thickness of no more than 1/4 inch. Rub the flesh with the salt and chili powder leave to stand for 10 minutes. (This helps to release excess moisture in the aubergine flesh.)
  2. To make the batter, combine the gram flour, salt and spices in a bowl, then gradually add just enough of the measured water to form a smooth batter with a thin coating consistency.
  3. Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan (ensuring the pan is no more than one-third full) to 375°F. Line a plate with some kitchen paper. Working with 1 slice of aubergine at a time, press it between 2 sheets of kitchen paper to extract excess moisture, then dip the slice in the batter, add it to the hot oil and fry for 1 minute on each side, until deep golden brown and crispy.
  4. Transfer to the paper-lined plate and leave to drain excess oil while you fry the remaining aubergine slices. Season with sea salt flakes and serve hot with your preferred chutney.
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