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Dhaka Tribune

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Update : 03 May 2017, 06:33 PM
Every Bengali out there will profess a deep love for the “Begun Bhaja”, one of the staples of Bengali cuisine and my personal favourite. But it's not just Bengalis who hold the eggplant in such high esteem; almost every country I have ever visited has featured some sort of eggplant dish. This week, we feature two totally different eggplant recipes – one is more Middle Eastern inspired and the other is cooked in a Chinese style, but both are guaranteed to be delicious and easy to cook.

Zataar chicken with eggplant puree

Zataar chicken with eggplant pureeIngredientsFor the chicken:2 chicken breasts 2 tsp zaatar (Middle Eastern spice blend) 2 cloves of garlic mashed 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp olive oilFor the eggplant puree:1 medium sized eggplant 3 cloves of garlic 1/3 cup tahini 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder 1/2 tsp paprika 1 tbsp lemon juice 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper powder 1/4 cup water 2 tbsp olive oil Crumb (optional) 1/3 cup sundries tomatoes 1/4 cup pine nutsDirectionsSlice the chicken breasts into three thin slices each. Apart from salt, add all other ingredients and marinate for 30 minutes. To make the eggplant puree, prick the eggplant and garlic cloves and brush some oil onto the skin. Pricking prevents the eggplant and garlic from bursting. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C and roast the eggplant for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the garlic during the last 10 minutes since it takes less time. Bake it until the eggplant is soft. Once it is soft, take it out of the oven and let it cool. Peel the skin of the eggplant and remove the seeds. Remove the skin off the garlics too. Now, put all the ingredients for the puree in a food processor and blitz it until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Once done, set aside. For the crumb, bake the sundried tomatoes and pine nuts for five minutes. Take it out and let it cool. For the chicken, heat your griddle pan over high heat and oil it lightly. Add the salt in the chicken and mix well. Grill it over high heat. To serve, spread the puree on the plate and place the chicken on top. Sprinkle the crumbs. You can add your favourite boiled or grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes too.Tip: This eggplant puree can be used as a dip as well.Note: Since zaatar is not readily available here, you can make your own spice blend as a substitute. To make about 1/2 cup of zaatar, put 3 tbs dried thyme, 1 tbs lightly toasted sesame seeds, 1 tbs ground sumac (or use lemon zest instead), 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and 1/4 tsp salt in a spice grinder.All above spices and ingredients such as sundried tomatoes, tahini, pine nuts, etc are available on Direct Fresh as well as local supermarkets such as Dhali and Lavender.

Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce

Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce 2Ingredients4 cups of eggplant, cut into one inch thick pieces 2 tbsp tomato ketchup 2 tbsp tomato purée or paste 3 tbsp chopped garlic 2 tbsp sliced onion 1 tbsp minced ginger 3 tbsp soy sauce 1 tbsp oyster sauce 2 tbsp rice vinegar 1/2 tsp chili powder 2 dried chili sliced 1 tbsp brown sugar or white sugar 1/2 cup green onion 1 tbsp cornflour 1/2 tsp black pepperDirectionsHeat half a cup of oil and fry the eggplant until soft. Put them on a paper towel to soak excess oil. Heat two tablespoons of oil again. Add the ginger, garlic and onion. Sauté for two minutes. Add the chilli powder and sliced chilli and sauté for a few seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, tomato ketchup, vinegar and sugar. Mix well and add 1/2 cup of water. Let it come to a boil. Add the eggplant. Mix well and add the green onions. Mix the cornflour in a little water and add half of it first. Bring it to a boil. Use the rest of the cornflour if needed. Add the black pepper. Taste and adjust the salt and sugar. Serve hot with rice.Tip: Frying eggplant can be a little tricky. Make sure to cook them over medium heat all the way through, while you fry them. If they are not cooked through and soft before putting them in the sauce, they will be crunchy and hard. Since there is sugar in the sauce, it won't soften up after putting it in.
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