The best meals are often the simplest ones. Those which can be rustled up with really few ingredients, in minimum time, and deliver high on nutrition, as well as satisfaction. Quick cooking=happy eating=content tummies.
This raita is one such recipe. Besides, the dish is versatile in that it can be used in many ways. The day I made it at home, we used it as raita, dip, as well as a substitute for mayo in sandwiches! So does it taste like baba ghanoush? Well, not quite. Tzatziki? well, maybe. Punjabi Baingan Bharta? mmm, not that either.
Why don’t we just delve in and find out? Shall we?
The secret to an amazing brinjal raita lies in how it is smoked. While purists will tell you to rub some oil on the skin and roast on all sides over an open flame patiently turning it over and watching lest it char beyond recognition, i am going to let you in on a secret!
Just rinse the brinjal, wipe dry, slit into four long pieces, place in a microwave safe glass bowl and cook on the highest power for 6-7 minutes. Now take each piece and roast them individually over an open flame for just a minute per piece. Dunk them in a bowl of cold water, peel the charred skin and reserve the pulp. This whole process takes less than 15 minutes. This gives the right amount of smokiness to the pulp without being overpowering. It also frees you up to attend to the rest of the meal while it cooks in the microwave. No need to tend to it constantly. Plus a total reduction in cooking time.
Now that I have simplified it for you, go ahead and make yourself some fragrant raita/dip/sandwich filling/meal by itself.
- Does NOT contain gluten, nuts, corn, soya, eggs.
- Has dairy in the form of skim milk curd (yoghurt). Usually tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.
Preparation Time – 15 minutes, Cooking time – 15 minutes, Serves – 4
Cookware – Knife, Cutting Board, Small Sauce pan / Tadka pan, Bowl of 1 litre capacity.
- 1 Big Violet Brinjal/Eggplant weighing approximately 500gms
- 1 cup Fresh curd
- 1/2 tsp salt
- A pinch sugar
- 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 small green chilli
- 1/4 tsp cooking oil
- a pinch of asafoetida powder
- a few curry leaves and coriander leaves for garnish – optional
- Prepare the brinjal/ aubergine/eggplant as described earlier. To repeat – wash, wipe dry, slit along length of brinjal into 3 pieces. cook for 6-7 minutes in microwave safe glass bowl at highest power. You may add 2-3 tbsp water to the bowl to help cook without shrinking. I find this method works best for me.
- After this, place each piece individually over an open small flame and char the skin. Dunk all of them into a bowl of cold water. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and reserve the pulp.
- Mash the pulp with potato masher/fork.
- Whip curd with sugar and salt. Add the mashed brinjal, and stir in well to combine. Raita just needs seasoning now.
- Prepare the seasoning by heating oil in a small sauce pan/tadka pan. Add mustard seeds, when they crackle, add slit green chilli, asafoetida powder. Switch off flame. Pour over the raita. Add the curry leaves and coriander leaves, if using, stir in and let it rest for few minutes.
Your delicious fragrant raita is ready! Serve with hot phulkas, paratha, bisi bele bhath, biryani, filling for sandwich, dip for crudites, wraps. Don’t want to make anything else? Just have it chilled. A bowlful. As it is.
- This method of cooking first and smoking next allows for a good desirable smokiness. Even agnostics of smoky flavours will find it appealing.
- Do not omit the seasoning. It is crucial in bringing all the flavours together.
- Some chilling will really help in elevating this simple creation. However, if you are in a hurry, don’t worry. Just dig in.