By Shalini Kolluri
The rich aromas of fresh cilantro and fried eggplant bring back fond memories of my childhood. My mother almost always made this recipe during family gatherings and feasts.
She often advised me to balance the sour flavor in my recipe with a pinch sugar. This little tip not only enhanced the taste but, also delicately counterbalanced the pungent acidity that many ingredients bring to the food.
Take marinara for instance, adding carrots or some sugar to the sauce neutralizes the acidity in the tomatoes beautifully. Sometimes, a hint of agave cleverly masks the sourness of vinegar in a salad dressing.
Traditionally this south Indian recipe uses tamarind (sour) and jaggery (sweet). The two strong ingredients that compliment one another. However, I have decided to use raw honey and lemon juice instead.
The goodness of honey:
Honey is also called ‘Madhu’ in the Ayurvedic texts, which means ‘the perfection of sweet’.
Honey is a natural super food as it contains valuable vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, natural sugars and enzymes that aid digestion. To extract the maximum benefits from honey, it is best not to use it very hot (above 40 degrees C) or with very spicy food.
Hope you enjoy making one of my favorite versions of eggplant!
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 Japanese eggplants
Salt as needed
2 cups cilantro (washed and chopped)
1/2 table spoon raw honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 or 2 cayenne chili peppers
Dice the eggplant in thin circles. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high. Add the eggplant in. It may splatter a bit, especially during the first minute or so of cooking.
Fry the slices on each side.
In the meantime, while the eggplant slices are cooking, add 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro and 1 or 2 cayenne chili peppers into a blender. With a teaspoon of water blend the ingredients into a coarse paste.
Add the cilantro chili paste to the eggplant once the slices are golden-brown and tender.
Stir in the salt and reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from stove and wait for it to cool down. Add honey and lemon juice and mix.
Serve with brown rice.