Spice Crusted Eggplant

This is the eggplant side dish we all need in our recipe repertoire!

4 spices, 6 ingredients, and under 15 minutes to make. The result? Eggplant that is crispy and savory on the outside; lusciously tender on the inside.

My go-to for quick lunches or dinners, served with some rice, and salad. Makes a great poppable snack too. Or I even stack them in a sandwich sometimes.

You could also follow the same recipe and process for zucchini, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes! Truly versatile.

Do try!

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Ingredients:
serves 4-6
4 japanese purple eggplants, washed, and sliced into 1/2″ thick circles
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp sambar masala powder
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp coarse salt

Prep Notes:
If you can’t find japanese eggplants, feel free to use any type of eggplant. Just keep in mind, the small Thai and Indian eggplants may take longer to cook, and the large American eggplant takes lesser time to cook.

Wash the eggplant and cut off both ends. Slice the eggplant into 1/2″ (or slightly thicker if you’d prefer) circles. Place them on paper towels and dab any little moisture on the outside.

I don’t salt the eggplant until it’s much later in the cooking process, which creates the crispy exterior without it giving out much water.

When adding spices, feel free to increase the quantity if you want a thicker spice crust, or a more spiced version!

If you don’t have sambar masala available, a quick shortcut is to mix 1 part coriander powder, 1 part turmeric powder, 1 part red chilli powder, 1/8 part asafoetida, 1/8 part black pepper. The original sambar masala has roasted lentils in them in addition to the spices, which is hard to find a shortcut/replacement for, so you can just skip them.

Method:

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In a bowl add the measured spice powders; asafoetida, cumin, coriander, and sambar powders. Don’t add salt yet.

Toss the eggplants well in the spices, making sure all the pieces are coated thoroughly. Let this rest for 10 minutes. Since eggplants are inherently watery and porous, the spices blend together and flavor the veggie inside out.

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You may need to batch cook these in two or three batches, depending on the size of your pan.

Heat a large flat non stick pan over medium heat for 5 minutes.

While the pan is heated, brush 1 tsp oil evenly all over the pan, and sprinkle 1/2 tsp salt throughout.

Gently place the spice crusted eggplant discs spread apart, evenly in one layer.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and cook/crisp for 3 minutes.

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Turn them over carefully, and sprinkle remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Drizzle another teaspoon of oil all around the pieces.

Managing heat is key to getting a perfectly cooked eggplant. Maintain high heat is crucial to develop that golden brown crust; but depending on your stove, you may need medium heat instead of high heat. Make sure you’re monitoring it so it doesn’t burn.

Cook on the other side for about 4-5 minutes.

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Once crispy, continue cooking, turning over every couple of minutes, until they’re cooked through and tender.

Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

If you’re batch processing,  repeat the process for the remaining pieces; from heating the pan, brushing with oil, and cooking/crisping the remaining spiced slices.

Serve immediately, it’s best when fresh!

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