Before I tell you anything else, I need you to know that one of our most discerning friends gave this fried eggplant with chickpeas dish the only review you need to know: “That’s oh my F*&! eggplant!”
The backstory: New Year’s Eve is pretty much the best… unless it’s the worst. The past few years we’ve teetered on the side of the latter (hotel parties filled with twenty year old women and fifty year old men… woof), and so this year MrKef came up with the brilliant idea to get an AirBnB outside the city and just hang with our awesome friends. I was all in for a NYE that didn’t require me to ask the question, “Why is that man dancing so close to a woman who could be his child?” PLUS it would give me the opportunity to hold our friends captive and cook until my little arms refused to chop anymore. Done and done.
I didn’t have time to test any recipes, so I went straight to the source: the New York Times Best Recipes of 2015. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was on the menu. The recipe is flawless (original here), so I am reprinting it verbatim below with only a few notes, but the one addition I did make is worth putting in huge letters here: MAKE THE YOGURT GARLIC SAUCE IN HUGE QUANTITIES AND SLATHER IT ON EVERYTHING YOU EAT FOR THE NEXT WEEK.
Billions of thanks to SpeaktoSomeoneAboutThatKef for frying up all those eggplant slices and MsBumbleBee’sArchEnemyKef for the food pics this week!
Later this week: a dangerous punch and a delicious cake, plus some scenes from NYE 2016.
Fried Eggplant with Chickpeas, Mint Chutney, and Yogurt Sauce
FOR THE EGGPLANT:
- 2 lbs baby or small Italian eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
- Fine sea salt, as needed
- 3 to 4 TBS extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed (and you will almost definitely need lots and lots more)
- 1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 tsp garam masala (I used red curry powder)
- ½ tsp sweet paprika
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp cayenne
- 1 lb ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used 2 or 3 tomatoes on the vine and half a can of fire roasted tomatoes)
- 1 can (15 oz) cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
FOR THE MINT CHUTNEY:
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 scallion, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
- juice of half a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
- Plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE:
- ~ 1 cup of yogurt (do yourself a favor and just go for the full-fat Fage)
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated (or more if you really love garlic)
- 2-3 tsp lemon juice, or more to taste
- half a bunch of scallions, chopped to about 1/4-inch pieces
- Season eggplant slices all over with salt. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until it thins out in the pan. Add enough eggplant slices to fit in one layer without overlapping. Cook until the bottoms are browned, then flip and continue to cook until well browned and soft, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Add more oil if needed. (Editor’s Note: we ended up pretty much dry-frying about half of them for fear of heart disease.) Transfer cooked eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels, and repeat with more oil and eggplant until all the eggplant is cooked.
- Heat another tablespoon of oil in pan, then add the onions. Cook until softened and golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add spices and cook for 1 minute, then add tomatoes, chickpeas and 2 tablespoons water.
- Partly cover the pan and let the mixture simmer until tomatoes start to break down, 10 to 15 minutes. Add eggplant to the pan and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until sauce thickens.
- While the eggplant cooks, combine all the ingredients for the chutney in a blender. Blend until puréed, about 1 minute. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt, or both, if needed.
- Combine yogurt, lemon juice and grated garlic in a bowl. Play around until you get the consistency you’d like, and know that the garlic flavor will become a bit more pronounced after only a few minutes of sitting–so before you add a ton more, let it rest a minute. Once you’ve attained your preferred consistency and garlic level, toss in the scallions.
- Serve the eggplant with the chutney and yogurt.