The Elegance of the Cheeseless Eggplant Fritto

In the aftermath of having indulged a little more than warranted on cheese at a chosen time of the month, be it in pizzas or pastas, the mention of the words eggplant parmigiana, at the Italian bistro one is dragged to by the little cheese-junkie in the family makes one grimace. The signature three-cheese pizza wins hands down in the little one’s books. The husband, oblivious to one’s own predicament, first chooses his wine with care. A DeChaunac, which is slightly robust and comes with an in-house recommendation, should just about do it, to wash down his standard pick, a fettuccine alfredo. One stares at the menu again, noodling around with possible choices, punching it down to a simple spaghetti. Once the pizza makes a sizzling appearance, and the fettuccine frisks by without a fuss, one sips on the wine, ogling idly at the happy cheese gorgers. The spaghetti finally arrives, lackluster on its own, topped with that manipulated redness in the marinara, and a mandatory sprinkling of some variety of cheese. On the drive back home, one heaves a sigh of relief. An elegant, cheese-free eggplant idea has just come to one, and what’s more, the spaghetti on the side won’t have to be relegated to its sodden state anymore. As the week unfolds and another Friday night inches closer, one is ready to put out a meal that will leave the cheese-junkie drooling and the wine-whiz scrambling to the pantry to pick out the totem wine of the Brancotts off the shelves.

Eggplant Fritto in Tadka Masala

1 Large eggplant, sliced into ¼ inch thick circles

For the Masala:

  • 2 Tablespoons maida or all-purpose flour
  • ½ Teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 Teaspoon salt, or according to preference
  • ½ Teaspoon each of sugar and roasted sesame powder
  • 1 Teaspoon each of red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, aamchur (dried mango powder)
  • A dash of garam masala powder
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard oil (or any cooking oil of choice)
  • A splash of water

Oil for shallow frying

¼ Cup of roasted peanut powder for garnish

Mix the dry masala ingredients well, add the oil, and then a splash of water and stir thoroughly to avoid lumps. The consistency should be thin enough to rub and coat the eggplant slices, approximately like that of dosa batter. Dip each eggplant slice in the masala marinade with care, coating on both sides. Let the slices sit for 30 minutes.

In a pan, warm a teaspoon of oil and shallow fry the slices one by one, or two at a time, using very little oil to fry on either side. Cover the pan and use a low-medium flame, to help prevent the eggplant slices from getting burnt. Top with peanut powder and serve with spaghetti in the signature Tadka tomato sauce (recipe follows).

Tadka Tomato Sauce for Spaghetti

3 Large, ripe tomatoes, cut into quarters
Water for boiling and a dash of salt

  • 1 Tablespoon light olive oil
  • A Dash of turmeric
  • 1 Small white onion, chopped fine
  • 3 Pods of garlic, crushed
  • 1 Small jalapeno, de-seeded and minced fine
  • 1 Teaspoon each of red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • A pinch of sugar
  • A bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped

Boil the tomatoes until soft and the skins peel away easily. Mash the tomatoes with the back of a ladle until you have a pulpy mass. Keep aside.

In a pan, heat the oil, throw in the turmeric, onion, garlic and jalapeno. Add a dash of salt and let them cook down. Add all the dry masala powders and fry for a minute. Then add the tomato pulp, salt and pepper to taste, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of water, let cook, covered, on a medium flame for about 10 minutes. Add the mint leaves after the sauce cools off a little and mix in.

Pour over cooked spaghetti and serve hot.

We’re heading over to Erin’s Friday potluck with a dabba of this delicious duo –

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13 Responses to The Elegance of the Cheeseless Eggplant Fritto

  1. Madhu ParmarSEN says:

    LOOKS , yummmi….yummmi…..I will try same to same..but in addition I will use grated cheese on top of eggplant instead of peanut powder…Do you have Idea..hw will it turn 🙂

  2. saffronstreaks says:

    I simply adore eggplants and this one is surely a wonderful way to binge on the eggplants, and in addition with lots of crumbled feta cheese on top and with tomato salasa…going to be in my wishlist

  3. What a great way to enjoy eggplant!! Thanks for linking up to Friday Potluck!

  4. SpicieFoodie says:

    In my house we eat a lot of eggplant, simply can’t get enough. Your recipe is one I need to try very soon. Looks delicious! Thanks for participating in this month’s YBR 🙂

  5. Katherine says:

    Yum! I’ve never thought to combine eggplant and masala in this way, love it! Found you on Spicie Foodie’s YBR 🙂

  6. thank you for linking this delicious looking eggplant looks fabulous

  7. Pingback: Your Best Recipes of May 2011, YBR

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