A fete and a weekend lunch…

by Sunita on June 23, 2008

We attended the annual summer fete at the children’s school last Saturday. The weather was not that encouraging , but everyone was out there in full force. The children were running crazy around the field, at times a bit confused as to what thay should have first…their faces painted, hair sprayed, go on the bouncy castle, ride on the mini train, go on the roundabout , try their luck at the lucky dip, join the races (Dinesh and Agastya came third in a parent and child relay race) or lap up those gorgeous cakes and the all too important giant candy floss. In the end, Dinesh and I brought home two exhausted kids, ones hair sprayed in streaks of silver and gold and the other with the face of a very artistic tiger ( the lady who did it…another mom… was really good at face painting ), and their little tummies full of junk (we did turn a blind eye, it’s the school fair, after all…and everything tastes better :-D ).

The fair was after 3.00pm, so we had enough time for our lunch. Sometimes, well, most of the times, for me, the good recipes are concocted on the spur of the moment, and those are the recipes that make me happy and jump for joy. Most of you, some time or the other, must have had the same feeling too. You take out the ingredients, ponder as to what to make, start the preparation without any pre conceived idea…just flow along the tide. In the end, the finished dish, gives so much joy…to the maker, as well as the ones to whom it is served.

This…

and three other baby brinjals (aubergine or eggplant), have been in and out of the refrigerator, quite a few times now. They come out, I think of making something, no ideas, and back they go into the cold. Until…last Saturday. They were again sitting on the counter, and this time I took pity on them. The brinjals were washed, trimmed, slit and coated with a little spice, salt and oil and sent into the oven… while I made a very simple and quick gravy…by that time, the brinjals were soft and juicy and were taken out and dunked into the gravy. I must say that I was really pleased with the results…enough to be happy to share with you all…it’s a very versatile gravy and would also go well with paneer or mushrooms. The preparation time is also very less.Here’s how I made the baked baby brinjals in a spicy peanut gravy for our Saturday lunch…


What’s needed-
To bake the baby brinjals-

4 baby brinjals, the stalks removed, washed and a deep + sign cut vertically at the thicker end
1 tblsp mustard oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the gravy-

1 tblsp oil
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
a handful of peanuts
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 whole red chilli
chilli powder
(optional, as per taste)
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp roasted and ground cumin
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 inch stick of cinnamon
2-3 cardamoms
1 small bay leaf
3-4 cloves
3/4 C water( more or less)
1/2 tsp garam masala
coriander leaves
to garnish
salt to taste

How to-

  1. Pre heat the oven at 250 deg C.
  2. Rub the brinjals with the rest of the ingredients, well into the slits, and place them on their sides, on a lined baking tray.
  3. Place the tray in the top rack of the pre heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or till they are soft and begin to leave their juices… they need not be completely cooked (approx 90%), for they will do some more in the gravy. turn them over, once in between.
  4. When the brinjals are nearly half way through, heat the oil for the gravy in a pan and add the whole cumin seeds, bay leaf and the whole red chilli.
  5. When the seeds begin to splutter, add the onions and peanuts and fry till the peanuts leave their aroma and dark spots start to appear.
  6. Add the tomatoes, garlic, roast cumin,chilli powder(if using any) and turmeric and season with salt, stir and cook covered over low heat till the tomatoes are mushy. Stir in between.
  7. Add the water and bring to a boil. Transfer to a food processor and pulse, along with the whole spices. Do not make it too smooth, just make sure that the spices have ground properly.
  8. Transfer the gravy to the pan over heat and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  9. Add the brinjals, coat them with the spices and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring often(the gravy will tend to stick to the pan). Add more water if necessary and cook till the brinjals are completely done.
  10. Add the garam masala powder, stir and remove from heat.
  11. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

This does look a bit long, but when you get down to it, is really very simple. By the time the brinjals finish baking, the gravy is ready to receive it. And it tastes great…It can be served as a side dish with rice or with rotis/nans/puris. As it was a spicy dish, we kept the rest of our meal quite simple – plain rice, dal and some stir fried ladies fingers… we licked our plates clean :-)

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Happy cook June 23, 2008 at 10:52 am

Love the whole meal plate.
Looks so delicious. I have never done anything with baby brinjal

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2 Asha June 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

Sounds like a fun fete, glad you enjoyed it despite the usual weather there!:))
Miracle happened here y’day! It rained after 10 days of searing heat! Hurray!
Love the Gutti Vankaya stuff, looks mouthwatering. I made it with Latha N’s recipe y’day, will be our dinner today.I don’t get the baby Brinjal ones but made it regular Eggplants. Enjoy!:))

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3 Aparna June 23, 2008 at 11:49 am

You seem to have had as much fun as the kids.
Maybe I can persuade my daughter to eat brinjals if she takes a look at these pictures.:)

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4 Meena June 23, 2008 at 12:12 pm

I hear ya! I love it when a dash of this and a sprinkiling of that creates a whole new flavour experience! I love eggplants, nd your curry looks divine – a perfect combo with warm, fluffy rotis. Can’t wait to try. Thanks Sunita!

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5 Richa June 23, 2008 at 12:59 pm

hi Sunita, nice to ’see’ you too :)
gravy looks so thick n yum, liked the idea of baking the brinjals, lovely!
just yest i was reading an article in Time re: ana ivanovic, ur sweet comment made me smile :) yes, wimbledon will be a lot of fun as always! Enjoy!

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6 Nags June 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

i bought brinjal today to try something i had at a friend’s place this weekend.. its something like baingan barta but doesn’t involve the roasting. your recipe is a bit more elaborate but i am sure it must have tasted yummy! i am yet to buy all those spices for my kitchen here :D

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7 arundati June 23, 2008 at 2:20 pm

delectable looking baby brinjals….glad the family had a whale of a time at the fete….

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8 JZ @ Tasty treats June 23, 2008 at 2:48 pm

hmmm, yum!! it looks delicious! and peanut gravy, that should taste great! beaustiful pics, its great that ur family are patient when u take these pics, how can they resist ur creations for that long!!

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9 A&N June 23, 2008 at 5:07 pm

What don’t you use the oven for? :D Looks beautiful. Will try it soon!

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10 notyet100 June 23, 2008 at 5:51 pm

looks so delicious,,.new version forme,,,really like ur pics..everythin looks so fresh…

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11 sunita June 23, 2008 at 5:52 pm

happy cook,
Thanks…it’s never to late to try anything *hint*

asha,
yes, the fickle British weather…I think we’ve got used to it now :-)

aparna,
The pleasure also comes from the look of excitement and flushed faces of the kids :-)
Even Rengoni and Agastya are not too keen on it…have recently started to enjoy them though :-)

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12 sunita June 23, 2008 at 5:58 pm

meena,
You’re most welcome…please do give it a try…we loved it :-)

richa,
Yes, nice to have you back…and as soon as i saw the news on Wimbledon, somehow, you came to my mind :-P

nags,
Take it slow…you’ve got plenty of time to catch up..it’s just the beginning…we really loved this curry…yummy results with very little effort :-D

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13 sunita June 23, 2008 at 6:02 pm

arundati,
thanks…we did have fun, thank you :-)

jz,
Thanks, it did taste great :-) …as for taking the pictures,I do have to hurry up when they’re around…no second chances :-)

a&n,
Thanks…yes,to be honest, I could probably survive with an oven alone :-D D

notyet100,
Thanks…glad you like it…we really enjoyed the meal :-)

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14 Priya June 23, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Sounds a lot like bagara baingan Sunita. I don’t like brinjals but I love the gravy and stuffings that go into its various preps. So my mom would make extra masala and substitute with another veggie just for me.

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15 Rajitha June 23, 2008 at 10:06 pm

the presentation is beautiful …but again..it always is..glad the kiddos had fun :) ..aah..the luxury to eat junk and not feel guilty :D

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16 Uma June 23, 2008 at 10:39 pm

delicious brinjal curry. awesome pics.

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17 TBC June 23, 2008 at 11:55 pm

Brinjal is not one of my fav veggies, but u make it look really good.:D

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18 Sia June 24, 2008 at 10:46 am

oh how i wish i could have joined u guys and got my face painted :)
and i love this eggplant curry and baking it is a brillient idea suni. i have similar recipe in my blog with peanuts but i cooked on stove top.

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19 Rachel June 24, 2008 at 4:37 pm

I love fetes especially with the kids…glad you had fun…

Lovely looking meal!

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20 Kalai June 24, 2008 at 6:54 pm

The eggplant curry is just out of this world, Sunita!! Am so glad you had a great time at the fete with the kids. :)

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21 karuna June 24, 2008 at 9:54 pm

i knw brinjals can somtimes give a brain freeze…hehehe. i love the dish.nice recipe.

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22 farida June 25, 2008 at 12:15 am

What a lovely looking plate! It reminded me of stuffed eggplants we make, but I know it is different. Just reminded:) My mouth is watering. Off to the kitchen:)

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23 Sig June 25, 2008 at 5:49 am

brinjals and the spicy peanut sauce , great combo…and as usual a yummy picture too!

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24 sunita June 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm

priya,
thanks…will have to look out for bagara baingan…have no clue :-)

rajitha,
Thanks dear…yes, we did have fun…childhood is bliss :-)

Uma,
Thanks :-)

tbc,
Thanks…maybe it might help in making you form a different opinion :-P

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25 sunita June 25, 2008 at 7:15 pm

sia,
We would have loved to have you..how would you like to have had your face painted…some sort of culinary design??:-P

rachel,
yes, it’s fun to watch them have so much fun :-D

kalai,
thanks…yes, it was fun :-)

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26 sunita June 25, 2008 at 7:17 pm

karuna,
:-D D…thanks :-D

farida,
Thanks…would love to know your version :-)

sig,
Thanks..the combo did work well :-)

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27 Laavanya June 26, 2008 at 12:33 am

Fete – reminds me of the gala time we used to have at the ones in our school :) That looks fabulous! May I please invite myself over for this lunch?

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28 Rina June 26, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Sunitha, this is great. I was searching for a similar recipe with baby brinjals..thanks for sharing.

Always amazing pictures..

Though I don’t find time to comment.

I check your feeds regular thru my googel reader and admire your gr8 work with the pictures.

Simply mind blogging.

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29 TBC June 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Hey Sunita- Looked everywhere for your e-mail id.
I don’t know if this is something you are aware of…
http://tourismassam.blogspot.com/2008/02/assamese-cuisine-non-spicy-yet-uniquely.html

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30 sunita June 27, 2008 at 11:25 am

laavanya,
The fete at my school was, what I was reminded of, too :-)

…and of course, you are welcome, anytime :-)

rina,
Thanks for your support :-) …as for the recipe, we did enjoy it a lot, hope you do so too :-)

tbc,
Thank you so much…I wasn’t aware of it at all…have contacted the individual involved…waiting for an answer.

btw, my email id can be found at the top of the page…on the horizontal menu bar above the banner (Contact ) :-)

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31 Miri June 30, 2008 at 4:12 am

Yummy brinjal curry – more like the Andhra version…but baking the baby brinjals is so much easier than waiting for them to cook on the stove top – thanks for the tip!

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