Remembering Yamuna - Butter-soft Eggplant Wedges (Bhona Baigan Bhaji)
To help celerbate the cooking life of Yamuna Devi, here's more serialising of recipes by my cooking guru, Yamuna Devi! Before attempting to cook any of her recipes, make sure you are aware of the difference between US measures and Australian/metric measures. See below*
Srila Prabhupada gave us this recipe during his 1967 San Francisco classes. In Bengal, bhaji is loosely defined as any fried vegetable, and while this variation has other names, such as eggplant Puki, one thing is constant: it must be served immediately after cooking, piping hot.
To get authentic results, I recommend using fresh ghee; my second choice would be a newcomer on the market avocado oil. It can be heated to a very high temperature with out smoking, is very delicious, and one of the lowest of all unsaturated fats actually helping to lower cholesterol in the blood. Olive oil would be the third choice. I like to use baby white or purple eggplants, but large eggplants can be cut into wedges and used as well.
Salting time: 15-30 minutes,
Preparation and Frying time: under 15 minutes,
Serves: 6 to 8.
1½ tablespoons turmeric,
1½ tablespoons salt,
3 tablespoons water,
8-10 baby white or purple eggplants (about 1¼ pounds/570g) or 1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1¼ pound/570 g),
ghee or olive oil for frying.
Combine the turmeric, salt and water in a bowl. Cut small eggplants in half, or cut larger ones into wedges roughly 2½ inches (6.5 cm) long and 1½ inches (4 cm) wide. Toss the eggplant with the turmeric-salt mixture and set aside for 15-30 minutes.
To remove the watery turmeric marinade, drain the eggplant in a paper towel-lined colander. Pour enough ghee or oil to reach a depth ½ inch (1.5 cm) in a large heavy frying pan and place it over moderately high heat. When it is hot and nearly reaches its smoking point, carefully add a single layer of eggplant pieces. Fry, turning the pieces on all sides, until they assume a rich reddish-brown color and are fork-tender.
Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
*Note that since Yamuna wrote her recipes using US measurements, the weights are in US with metric in brackets.
More importantly, her tablespoons are US (15ml) whereas Australian/metric tablespoons are 20ml. So if you follow these recipes using metric measures, your tablespoons should be scant.
Similarly, the US cup is 240ml as distinct from the Australian/metric 250ml cup. The same scant measuring should thus apply to Australian/metric cup users.
The teaspoon is a universal 5ml.