Eggplant Mushroom Roast with Peanuts – Aromatic & Flavorful!
I’m a self declared eggplant lover. My husband converted me to be a mushroom lover. Now you know why this combination of vegetables, right! This recipe happened by chance. Actually I was looking for ways to use a special blend of masalas (spices) that I learned from my friend Sindhu. Thanks Sindhu! She had used this in a chicken curry recipe and though I couldn’t eat it, I was blown away by the aroma!! I immediately asked her for the spice blend that she used, and she gave me her mother’s recipe. And luckily, I had all the spices required at hand. So the masala was ready in minutes!
I bought some lovely purple eggplants and hubby dear suggested I try that masala on them. So armed with eggplants and masala, I started out on my experiment. Adding mushrooms and peanuts just happened!! Another important aspect of this recipe is the coriander (seed) powder, lots of it, and preferably freshly ground. I don’t like the readymade coriander powder that you get at the Indian stores, that seems rather tasteless to me. So I use my coffee grinder (my most fav. kitchen appliance) and grind my own coriander powder using the whole seeds. It is so much more flavorful!
The tender eggplants, spongy mushrooms and crunchy peanuts! This dish has so much texture and trust me, this will be the most aromatic vegetarian dish that you will ever make, ever!!! And I’m sharing my friend Sindhu’s special spice blend in this recipe. This is the secret to all the aromas and flavors. Well, if you do not have all the spices mentioned, please try to buy them or you can use your good old garam masala, but it just won’t be the same. This is a rather dry curry. It pairs wonderfully with plain white rice – mixing in the almost non existent gravy in rice with ghee, and you are in heaven! This would also be good with roti/naan. I have made a super spicy version, please to reduce the number of green chillies and red chilies according to your taste.
Special Spice Blend
Dry roast the following spices individually until aromatic.
Green Cardamom – 1 tsp (10 gms)
Cloves – 1 tsp (10 gms)
Poppy seeds (Khus Khus) – 1 tsp (10 gms)
Mace (Javithri) – 1 tsp (10 gms)
Cinnamon – 2 inch piece
Coriander seeds (Dhania) – 1 tsp
Star Anise – 2 no.
Nutmeg (Jaiphal/Jathikai) – 1 whole
Grind in your spice blender/coffee grinder into a fine powder.
P.S: My friend uses this masala to make a chicken fry. So non-vegetarians, please try it in that!
Eggplants (Brinjal) – 10 no. (small purple ones that you get at the Indian stores)
Button Mushrooms – 12-15 no. (preferably small ones, they are so cute!)
Peanuts (Groundnuts) – 3/4 cup (or more)
Onion – 2-3 large (Onions for the gravy in this recipe, so adjust accordingly)
Green chillies – 5-6 no.
Dry Red chillies – 5-6 no.
Red Chili powder – 2-3 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Ginger Garlic paste – 4 Tbsp (or use fresh minced ginger and garlic)
Curry Leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander powder – 5 Tbsp
Tamarind paste – 1 Tbsp (use more if yours is a light tamarind paste)
Salt – to taste
Oil – 4 Tbsp (more if your pan is not non-stick)
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Special Spice blend (recipe above) – 2 Tbsp
- Wash and towel dry the eggplants. Slit the eggplants in the center and then across, keeping the stem intact.
- Wipe the mushrooms clean with a wet cloth. Make a small cross on top of the mushrooms.
- Chop the onions as finely as you can or better yet, use your food processor/chopper to grate the onions. Or just grind the onions to a coarse paste in the blender. I use the mini food chopped that gives the best consistency, very fine and not pasty.
- Slit the green chilies lengthwise. Heat oil in a large, preferably flat bottomed non-stick skillet. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Then, add the cumin seeds, green chillies, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Saute for a minute and then add the peanuts. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the peanuts for 3-4 mins.
- Add the onions and turmeric powder and cook for 10-12 mins on medium high heat, until the oil starts separating from the onions.
- Mix in the coriander powder, red chili powder, salt to taste and the special masala/spice blend mentioned above. Toast for a minute until aromatic. (Add enough salt for all the eggplants and mushrooms, if you don’t add enough salt, the vegetables will be bland).
- Now add the eggplants and mushrooms and toss around so that everything is coated in the masalas. Place the eggplants on the pan so that each eggplant touches the base of the pan (If your pan is not big/flat enough, stir and toss occasionally and make sure all the eggplants cook evenly).
- Mix the tamarind paste in 2 cups of water and add to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 20-25 minutes, turning the eggplants on sides every 5 minutes, until they get cooked evenly. Stir gently from time to time so that the masala does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the eggplants are almost cooked, cook with the lid open, until almost all the water evaporates, about 5-8 minutes. Take care not to burn the curry. If you want to have a wet gravy, increase the amount of water in step 8 and adjust the consistency accordingly.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves/cilantro and some fried peanuts on top.
See the coating of spices on the eggplants and mushrooms?? Absolutely yum!