I love eggplant…my favorite ways are usually the way the Asian use them. Salty, sweet with a crispy exterior and a creamy interior…but, then there’s baba ganoush. And the Brazilians serve it simply grilled, with maybe a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar. Okay…so it really doesn’t matter in what cuisine the flavors lay, I’m there for eggplant! I created this because I wanted warm, but subtle spices. Garlic, of course and some onions and mushrooms, too. I had intended for the texture to be firmer, but this turned out to be creamy. I must admit, I am happy with it. Funny how that happens sometimes.
I used Asian eggplant. They are meatier, have very few seeds and they really don’t need to be peeled. I like to dust eggplant with cornstarch or rice flour before I fry it. Either choice gives a nice, light crispy crust. The bonus is that they also help thicken any sauce I might want to use. I used rice flour today. I always toss the eggplant pieces with the coating, and let them “rest” for at least 5 minutes. This allows the coating to adhere better.
Braised Eggplant with Warm Spices, Walnuts and Pomegranate Molasses
- 3 long Asian eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Rice flour for dusting
- 2-4 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
- 10 button mushrooms, whole or cut (they should be about the same size)
- 1 large onion, sliced from top to bottom into strips
- 1/2 cup bell pepper strips (optional)
- 4-6 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- Dash ground cumin
- Dash ground cinnamon
- Julienned zest of 1 lemon (optional)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 cups vegetarian both or chicken stock (I begin with 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or sriracha (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1-2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 3 tablespoons toasted walnuts or pine nuts
Toss/dust the eggplant pieces with the rice flour. Let stand for about 5 minutes. This helps the rice flour adhere better.
Heat a skillet over medium heat; add the ghee (or oil). When hot, add the eggplant slices, cut-side down. Do not crowd; fry in batches, if necessary. Cook until browned and the eggplant, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate; set aside. The eggplant doesn’t need to be fully cooked.
In the same skillet, add a bit more ghee. Add the mushrooms; sauté for a few minutes, until the mushrooms begin to brown. Don’t move them around much. After about two minutes, add the onion slivers. Continue to sauté for 2 more minutes.
Place the mushrooms, onions and garlic in a saucepan. Add the lemon juice, zest, if using and the spices; stir to coat completely. Add the broth and simmer until the eggplant is very tender. Stir in the chili-garlic sauce, if using. You can serve this now, or reheat it later, or simply serve at room temperature, garnished with the fresh mint and toasted walnuts. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses. This is excellent with simple grill meat, chicken or fish.
NOTE: You may use “regular” eggplant, but peel, then cut into 1-inch cubes; proceed with the recipe. I find Asian eggplant is firmer than the more common eggplant, so you may need to cook it less.
Braised Eggplant with Warm Spices, Walnuts and Pomegranate Molasses Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2020. All rights reserved.