Afghani Eggplants with Spicy Chickpeas

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This is a sensational vegetarian feast. It uses 3 sauces combined with a hearty slice of eggplant to create something totally unlike any other dish I’d tried. It’s got influences from India and Afghanistan which makes it a very interesting blend of flavours.


2 large eggplants
3 tablespoons salt
peanut oil (for frying)
small bunch of fresh coriander

Chickpea sauce:
400g can chickpeas
400g can chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
3 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt & pepper
10 curry leaves (fresh)

Yoghurt sauce:
10 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt

Tamarind Sauce:
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water

Cut off the top and bottom off the eggplants and peel them. Cut them into rings about 3cm wide. Fill a large pan with about 3 litres of water and add the salt. Put the eggplant in and weigh it down with a plate and something heavy on top. Leave for about 3 hours. Then remove and pat dry with paper towels. While the eggplants are soaking, make the sauces:

Yoghurt Sauce:
Simply combine all the ingredients.

Tamarind Sauce:
Again, combine all the ingredients

Chickpea Sauce:
Heat the oil in a pan over a hot heat, add the chillies and the mustard seeds when they start to pop, add the garlic, stir once then add the curry leaves, cumin, coriander, turmeric salt, tomatoes then chickpeas. Stir well, reduce to low then simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove the chillies before serving.

To complete the dish, heat a large deep frying pan with about 2cm of peanut oil until hot. Slide in as many slices of eggplant as you can on a single layer. Cook each for about 2-3 minutes on each side until reddish golden and tender. Place on a tray with paper towels and drain off any excess oil. Turn over and drain more. Change the paper if necessary. Repeat this process with all the remaining eggplant. You can prepare these in advance and leave for up to 3 hours.

Arrange the slices in a single layer on a large platter and lightly season with salt and pepper. If you prepared them earlier, heat in a preheated oven of 150ºc for 15 minutes (pour off any excess oil that gathers. Reheat the chick pea mixture and spoon over a heaped tablespoon onto each eggplant slice. Then add a little of the yoghurt sauce, and finally dot the top of each with the tamarind mix. Sprinkle with plenty of fresh coriander.

This can be served as a main course, or alongside some meat or fish.

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