Eggplant is an interesting vegetable it can be cooked in many different ways. I like it cooked as curry, in soya sauce, deep fried as pakora or simply made into a baigan choka, bharta or just as plain potato, tomato and eggplant curry. And when I am all out of option, I simply make the baigan raita. I discovered this recipe many years ago by accident at my friend Noni’s place. She had few cookbooks and I was browsing one when my eye caught this recipe. I scanned the recipe and realised that it had a unique combination of fried eggplants and yoghurt. In Fiji, we mainly make cucumber and carrot raita (I will post this recipe soon) so this unique combination really intrigued me. Next minute I was in Noni’s fridge searching for that hidden eggplant hiding behind the smelly radish, reddish tomato and some greenish buk choy. I rescued the eggplant, sliced it finely, smeared it with salt, washed it in cold water, tortured it in hot oil and added it to the blended yoghurt. The final product was just amazing. I have never tasted a raita that was so delicious. Since then it has become a family favourite and I make this once a month. I have taught few friends how to make this raita and everyone love it’s unique taste. So here is my recipe for my favourite eggplant raita.
1 big round eggplant or 4 small round eggplants
1 carton or 500 grams plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chillies powder (optional)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 clove crushed garlic
1-2 cups oil
Cut the eggplant into two and finely slice it. The sliced eggplant pieces should not be too thin or thick just the right size so that it can be shallow fried. Put the sliced pieces into a bowl and add salt to it and leave it aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the bitter water is released from the eggplant. Wash the salted eggplant in the cold water and empty it into a colander and let it sit aside so that all the water drips off the eggplant or you can pat the eggplant dry with the paper towel.
Now get a deep based pan ready to fry the eggplant pieces. Add just enough oil to the pan and heat the oil. I normal use a frying pan that is deep but just perfect for shallow frying. When the oil is hot, lower the heat and gradually add the eggplants. Here you have to be very careful because the eggplant will splutter and caused oil to explode in different direction so just be careful and keep yourself safe from oil splutter. Slowly fry the eggplant in the oil until they turn slightly golden in colour. Scoop the fried eggplant out and let them cool. Fry all the eggplant in this manner and then let it all cool down.
Get a deep bowl and add the plain yoghurt to it. Peel one clove of garlic, crush and add that to the yoghurt. Here you can also add red chilli powder. Mix and blend the yoghurt with a spoon. Don’t add any salt to the yoghurt because the eggplant will have enough salt in it so no extra salt is needed. Once the yoghurt is prepared, add the fried eggplant slices and mix it well. Sprinkle the top with paprika and your eggplant raita is ready. Eat this with any dishes accompanied by roti or rice.