Eggplant 101 & Tasty Baingan Katri
Eggplants, variously known as brinjal and aubergines are a fruit of the nightshade family, making them a close cousin to tomatoes. Eaten steamed, roasted, mashed or stewed, eggplants are a highly versatile vegetable that if mastered can lend their awesome taste to a massive number of recipes.
Selection and Storage
- Selection: Always pick eggplants that have an evenly shiny surface. They should feel heavy in your hands. That is when they are at peak ripeness.
- If the surface is too dull then the eggplant may be past it’s prime.
- To check for the firmness of the flesh press down on the body with your thumb, if the indentation pops back up then the eggplant is fresh and ripe.
- Storage: Store your eggplants in the fridge. The larger ones should be wrapped in plastic. This keeps the fresh for a long time and prevents moisture build up that can cause decay.
- Never refrigerate eggplant after it has been cut. Eggplants, like apples and potatoes oxidise very quickly and can be seen to turn brown after being cut and exposed to air. As such, not only will cut eggplant oxidise in the fridge very quickly, it also contains certain compounds that under the right conditions can turn poisonous!
- We recommend that you use your eggplant within a few hours of cutting it at the most. You can soak it in a bowl of cold water with a few drops of lime and a sprinkle of salt to keep them from turning brown.
Ways to Cut Eggplants
- Large slices can be cut by holding the eggplant vertically and driving your knife down the edges inwards.
- These big slices are typically perfect for baked dishes such as eggplant parmesan.
- Take your long vertical slices and laying them flat slice them into thin finger like juliennes.
- These juliennes can work for many dishes. Coat them in a tempura batter and fry them up for a delicious snack!
- Laying the juliennes in a bunch cut across to get evenly sized cubes.
- Cubing eggplants is the most common way to cut them for a quick stir fry or any Indian vegetable preparation.
- Laying the eggplant on it’s side cut across to get rings of about an inch in thickness.
- Cut thick rings with eggplants because they have a very high water content which evaporates as they cook, making them shrink in the heat.
Baingan Katri - An easy recipe
- Eggplant - 1 large, cut into rings
- Cumin powder - 1-2 tsp
- Chaat masala - 1 tsp
- Pepper - 1-2 tsp
- Salt - 1-2 tsp or to taste
- Ghee - 1 tbsp
- Heat up the ghee in a frying pan on medium heat.
- Pop in the eggplant rings one by one.
- Using the tip of a knife or fork poke rings into the eggplant. This helps them cook faster and also creates flavour pockets to absorb the spices.
- Sprinkle on a generous helping of all the spices and seasonings.
- Turn after 3-4 minutes and season and spice the other side.
- In about 10-15 minutes your katris will be fully cooked. Soft in the middle and slightly crispy around the edges, these are an awesome last minute snack!