Is it the golden brown cashews or the butter soft spears of eggplant that make this a succulent rice dish? The eggplants are first marinated in turmeric and salt to maximise the flavours, before being sauteed with spices and then cooked with the rice. The sesame-heavy spice mix is freshly made – dry roasted and then ground – and adds a nuttiness to the basmati rice.
This is a great main dish rice for lunch or dinner. It is a fiddly dish, with more work than we normally include in recipes. But the result is worth the extra effort. Serve with yoghurt or raita/pachadi, a simple spiced vegetable, a simple broth and perhaps some roti.
Spicy Eggplant Rice | Baigan Pulau
This is adapted from Yamuna Devi’s recipes from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time: 35 – 45 mins
Serves: 6 or more depending on how you use it. The recipe can be scaled for smaller gatherings.
1.25 cups rice
1 tspn turmeric2 tspns salt
2.25 cups water
1 small eggplant about 230g cut into 5 x 1.5 x 1.5cm batons
3 Tblspn sesame seeds
12 black peppercorns
1.5 Tblspn coriander seeds
8 whole cloves
0.25 tspn cinnamon
4-5 Tblspns ghee
0.5 cup broken raw cashews
0.25 tspn finely grated ginger root
2 tspns minced green chillies
0.25 tspn black mustard seeds
2 large black or 4 green cardamom pods
5 – 6 curry leaves
0.5 Tblspn lemon juice or lime juice
1 tspn jaggery or raw sugar
3 Tblspn chopped parsley or green coriander
Rinse the basmati, soak for 10 mins, spread on a tea towel to dry for 20 mins.
Meanwhile, combine the turmeric, 1 tspn salt and 1 Tblspn of the water in a bowl. Add the eggplant batons and mix well to coat the eggplant. Allow to marinate while you prepare the spices.
In a heavy pan, dry roast the sesame seeds, peppercorns, coriander seeds and whole cloves until the sesame seeds are golden brown. Grind in an electric grinder or stone mortar until it is a powder. Add the cinnamon and mix well.
Heat the ghee in a heavy large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the cashew nuts and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and put aside.
Raise the heat to moderate-high and add the mustard seeds. Allow to pop and add the chilli, ginger and cardamom pods. Fry for a few moments and add the curry leaves. As they splutter, add the eggplant and gently stir fry for a few minutes until the eggplant begins to brown.
Pour in the rice and stir, coating it with ghee. Fry for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add teh water, spice powder, remaining tspn of salt, lemon juice, sugar, the fried cashews and half of the fresh herbs.
Raise the heat to high and bring to a full boil. Cover tightly, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20-25 mins until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy. It is best not to open the lid while it is cooking. Turn off the heat and allow to sit, covered, for 5 mins to allow the grains to firm up.
Just before serving, remove the cover, sprinkle in the remaining fresh herbs and with a fork gently fluff the rice from the bottom to evenly mix the ingredients.