I’ve been on a MAJOR okra kick right now, which works well in this Indian classic. You’re probably thinking, “wait, isn’t this an eggplant dish”. And you’d be right. But first let me back up and profess my new found love for okra first.
I know okra gets a bad rap – that weird, slimy texture is not to appealing to a lot of people and unless you’re a gumbo aficionado, most people just aren’t on the okra train. To be honest, I had okra for the first time only a few years ago (I know, for a vegetarian, you’d think I’d have tasted every vegetable on the face of the earth, but we just didn’t grow up with it at all)! Granted what I had was the fried okra with garlic aoli at Milts BBQ for the Perplexed, here in Chicago, but honestly, what can you fry that ISN’T good? But I was searching for a low-carb “chip” alternative that wasn’t zucchini.
All I do is slice the okra down the middle, trim the tops, drizzle with avocado oil and sprinkle a ton of spices (just anything I have on hand – onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, hot paprika, rosemary, really…anything goes) and roast at 425F for about 20 minutes and you get crispy, crunchy and not-at-all-slimy okra chips! Ahh, my mouth is drooling already just thinking about these! Dipped in spicy guac, it’s the perfect snack food for me!
So what better way to incorporate my new favorite ingredient than into some Indian food! And no, this dish is primary accented with peas, not okra, with eggplant as the star of the show, but isn’t the fun of cooking to make it your own and experiment? After all, okra is a common staple in Indian cuisine!
So, here we are in – in the midst of “the 9 days” before Tisha B’Av, which means it’s time to be meat-free (and that’s every day, in my world). And while some are cooking up a dairy-lovers paradise in their kitchen, Daniel and I wanted to mix it up a bit and bring a warming, yummy vegan Indian dish to you! And speaking of Indian food…this recipe is a sneak peek to what you’ll get at our upcoming Pop-Up food event on July 29th, 2018!
In case you missed it, Daniel and I will be doing the cooking and food demos for the first International food pop-up at Ezras Israel! You can register for the event here!
This may sound intimidating but not to worry, we’ll go through it together! Though hard to pronounce, this Indian eggplant dish called “Baingan Bharta” (BANG-IN, BARTA) is similar to baba ghanoush so it’s a perfect appetizer to make for a party, Shabbat meal or even a picnic, since it’s mayo-free!
This chunky dip would be great served with naan (Indian flatbread), pita, crackers or simply scooped up with some warm challah! The warm aromatic spices will make your kitchen smell like a spice market! And if you’re not a fan of okra, just substitute the traditional peas in this dish, or frozen spinach instead (just make sure to squeeze out all of the water if you’re using frozen spinach, otherwise you’ll end up with a super watery dish)! Also, if you love spicy food like me, feel free to add in some diced green chilies – but if you prefer it mild, then this recipe is perfect for you!
Hope you can join us at the Indian popup food event!
In the meantime, happy cooking everyone!
- 1 eggplant
- 2 tbsp olive oil + extra
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 cup can of petite diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 cup okra, sliced
- 1 handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp salt + extra
- 1/2 lemon or lime, sliced
To make the roasted eggplant: Pre-heat oven to 425F. Coat the eggplant with a bit of oil and salt and pierce all over with a fork. Roast for 30 minutes, or until blistered and a bit charred (but not burnt).
Remove the stalk of the eggplant and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Using a fork, mash it well and place it to the side.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the cumin seeds, coriander and turmeric and cook for about 30 seconds until the spices get a bit darkened and warm and fragrant. Add the onion and ginger garlic paste and cook for about 8 minutes. (if you don't have ginger garlic paste - you can easily make your own: just add some freshly peeled ginger and garlic in a blender with some olive oil and puree until a paste forms. If you don't have fresh, just sub 1 tsp ground ginger and 2 cloves of garlic, minced).
Add the petite diced tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
Slice the okra in small pieces and add to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes until the okra is tender and a little crispy.
Add the eggplant to the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the eggplant has warmed through with the spices and tomato, onion mixture.
Scoop the dip into a big bowl, drizzle with some more olive oil, squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice and top with fresh parsley. Garnish with more lemon or lime slices.
Serve hot with fresh naan bread, pita, or gluten-free crackers!