Andhra Spiced Eggplant

Andhra Spiced Eggplant

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4 medium-long purple Asian eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs)
about 1/2 cup raw sesame oil or vegetable oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed or coarsely chopped
2 tbsp minced green cayenne chilis, or to taste
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp minced shallots
about 1/4 cup cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)


Preheat the oven 450 degrees F or heat a charcoal or gas grill.
Lightly rub the eggplant all over with oil and prick each one about ten times all over with a fork.  If using an oven, place the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and bake in the center of the oven until the skin is brown and the flesh is softened, about 45 minutes.  If using a grill, grill, turning often, until thoroughly softened.  Don't worry if the skin is charred.  Set eggplant aside to cool.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a wok or a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Toss in the onion, garlic, cayenne, turmeric, and cumin and stir to mix well.  Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is well softened and translucent but not browned, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the eggplant in half and scrape the pulp from the skin.  Place in a bowl, discard the skin, and mash well with a fork.  Set aside by your stove top.
Add the chilis to the onion mixture and stir-fry for about a minute.  Add eggplant pulp and salt and stir-fry for several minutes more, using your spatula to blend ingredients together.
Just before serving, stir in the minced shallots and stir-fry for about 1 minute.  Turn out into a bowl and sprinkle on some cilantro, if desired.
Serve with chapatis or pitas