Monday, June 25, 2007

An Eggplant Endamame Entree

This is my entry for the monthly Jihva For Ingredients, an event that celebrates all the wonderful natural ingredients that form the backbone of Indian cuisine! JFI is the brainchild of Indira from Mahanandi. This month, JFI is being hosted by Sangeeta of Ghar ka Khana. The name of Sangeeta's blog means "Home-Cooked Food", and she has chosen a vegetable that is cooked in hundreds of home-style ways: the EGGPLANT!


Those richly colored royal purple eggplants- I love them every day and in every way! I was so overwhelmed with ideas of dishes that I could make for this event that I almost ended up not participating at all. Finally, I decided to go for something super-simple. A typical way that I remember eating eggplant as a kid was in a vegetable dish (called bhaaji in Marathi) called Varna-Vaangi which fits in with the "Mixed Vegetables" theme from yesterday's post. Vaangi is eggplant, and Varna are either the same or very similar to the hyacinth beans called Valor (see a gorgeous picture on this post on Jugalbandi). The texture of the silky-soft cooked eggplant contrasts beautifully with the fiber-rich mouth-feel of the beans. The pairing of beans and eggplant is quite traditional, and very tasty. See another example of this combination here.

The only problem is that the typical eggplants used in Indian cooking, as well as these hyacinth beans are not very accessible to me- they require a trip to the International market. I decided to use the more easily available Italian eggplant and substitute the beans with endamame or soybeans (I have been wanting to try them for a while, and was even more inspired by Cooker's post). Endamame is a traditional Japanese ingredient but can be used anywhere beans are. So here it is, eggplant and endameme cooked together in a simple and flavorful way. If you cannot find soybeans, they can be substituted with lima beans.

The recipe has three features that are typical of Maharashtrian cooking: (a) the use of goda masala. This can be bought in stores, or made at home. Use garam masala as a completely different, but equally tasty alternative; (b) the use of a small amount of crushed peanuts to provide a little bit of richness and nuttiness to the dish and (c) the use of a small amount of jaggery (unrefined brown sugar/ gud) to add a hint of sweetness to the dish.

Vaangi ani Soybean chi Bhaaji


vangi2
(My spin on a traditional recipe, serves 3-4)
Ingredients
1 medium Italian eggplant, or equivalent amount of small ones
1 C endamame/ soybeans (fresh or frozen)
1 heaped t cumin-coriander powder
1 t goda masala
2 T crushed roasted peanuts
1/2 T jaggery powder
Tempering:
2 t oil
1 t mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1/4 C chopped onion
1/2 t turmeric powder
1 t red chili powder (or to taste)
salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash the eggplant and cut into medium dice. If the eggplant is fresh, there is no need to take the trouble of peeling the eggplant, or of salting it to draw out the bitterness. There should be no bitterness to begin with.
vangi1
2. In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the tempering ingredients and stir around until the onion is slightly browning at the edges.
3. Add the diced eggplant and the endameme and stir to coat with all the spices.
4. Add cumin-coriander powder, goda masala, peanuts and jaggery, then stir in 1/4 cup of water (to get the steaming started). Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring ocassionally, until the eggplant is tender (by which time, the endamame will definitely be cooked).

I served this delicious vegetable with some cool yogurt rice. I made yogurt rice my usual way, except for adding some finely diced cucumber to it. I picked up this idea from some book or blog...can't seem to remember. But the crunchy cucumber tastes terrific in the yogurt rice, and the combination with this flavorful vegetable was a winner.
vangi3

Other popular Maharashtrian ways with the eggplant:
1. Vaangi Kaap (Eggplant Slices)
2. Bharli Vaangi (Stuffed Baby Eggplants)
3. Vangi Bhaat (Eggplant Rice)

For a spectacular list of delicious eggplant recipes, check out Sangeet's round-up!

23 comments:

  1. You know in a Bengali cuisine eggplant is never paired with beans, I have never had it paired with beans !!! Amazing how much cuisine varies over India because you say its traditional to pair eggplant with beans in Maharashtra.

    But I like this and also a very good use of edamame I think. I have often wondered wht I can make with edamame and never brought them home.

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  2. This looks like a wonderful combination - I have cooked eggplant with black eyed peas, and I remember my MIL used to pair them with chickpea too.

    Unfortunately, we get none of the beans you have suggested endamame, lima, or even valor :-( Do you know the Hindi name for valor?

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  3. Wow, you always come up with something unique and simple yet traditional too. i have a long list of your recipes that i need to try out.

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  4. An updated classic!
    Looks delish.

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  5. Classic combo. The bite from the beans compensates for the creaminess from eggplants. Love the saree in the photo :)

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  6. This looks ad sounds yummy. Is the cumin-coriander powder the same as "goda masala"??
    Enjoyed your "V" roundup as well.

    Kamini

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  7. What a neat idea to replace with soy beans! I remember my mom making this combo very often, especially on 'Bhogi' day, which is the previous day of Sankranta. Though I have never been a big fan of this bhaaji, your combo does tempt me to give it a try again...

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  8. Anita, I think valor is called 'sem' in Hindi. At least it is in Madhya Pradesh. Valoer is that flat bean that can be green or green tinged with purple, right?

    Nupur, I am thrilled to realize that I am not the only one who adds edamame in a lot of Indian recipes. For a very short while my local Trader Joes was carrying frozen green chickpeas too. I added them to many bhajis - even a butternut squash bhaji prepared like a bhopla bhaji with khaskhas, khobra and methi seeds.

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  9. Any dish that has edamame is on priority for me because it is a good source of protein. And for a vegetarian for me, that is much more important I guess... Thanks for posting such a nice recipe.

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  10. it sounds like a neat idea to pair eggplant with endmeme... so you have been taking sneak peaks of your pickle too. :) Can't wait to start using it.

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  11. The eggplant with endamame looks soooo delicious Nupur. I've always wanted to cook with endamame beans too. Costco carried fresh endadmame beans for a while during spring...but I didn't buy it then and thus missed a golden opportunity :(

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  12. This combo is new to me. But it sounds very delicious!

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  13. I love love love eggplant too, and that is a fabulous combination! Edamame are so good for you and so rich and buttery, a perfect pairing for the tender eggplant. I'll definitely be trying this, thanks Nupur!

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  14. Eggplants are always my favourite. Great entry. Looks great. Never heard about combo of beans and eggplant. Will try soon. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. What a great meal you have made from this royal purple eggplant

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  16. looks great nupur! nice entry.

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  17. A healthy and unusual combo Nupur. Great. Viji

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  18. Is this what they call avro in konkani? Or am I way off?

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  19. Sandeepa, I have also seen endamame for ages without going ahead and buying it. Now I can think of lots of uses for it, having tasted it in this subzi. It looks like it can be easily Indianized :)

    Anita, oooh, the combo with chavli and chickpeas sounds delicious, I'm going to try that! Don't know the Hindi name for valor, but I am sure those large white dried beans (double beans, I think they are called) could be subbed here as well.

    Priyanka, thanks :)

    TC, you are the leader in updating classics!

    Suganya, it is the edge of a kameez, actually :) I never get to use these nice clothes in the US, so I;m happy it got a chance to be a background at least!

    Kamini, as usual, I made a careless mistake in the recipe! You are very observant, thanks for pointing that out. Have added goda masala to the recipe.

    Tee, oh really? I never noticed that this dish is associated with certain festivals! Now that you mention it...maybe I can remember it. Do give it a try, it has probably been a long time since you ate that combo!

    Nivedita, thanks for the translation. Yes, that is the bean I am referring to. When tender, the whole beans (pod and all) are used, when more mature, the pod becomes too tough and the beans are extracted and eaten.
    Love you ideas! I am only just discovering endamame but hope to use it often!

    Hima, true, endamame, and all kinds of other beans and lentils are good and convenient sources of protein.

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  20. Mandira, now I have started gobbling the pickle full-on :) I'm not even pretending to just taste it :) Served it to some friends with parathas and they loved it too!

    Nabeela, true, fresh endamame might be hard to find. Do you have a Trader Joe's nearby? They stock big bags of frozen endamame. Glad you like this combo :)

    Anh, glad you like it!

    Linda, it is very similar to your eggplant vaal pairing! I'm going to be trying that one soon :)

    Jyothi, let me know if you try it!

    Cynthia, I love the eggplant, could eat it every day :)

    Roopa, thanks!

    Viji, glad you like it!

    Raaga, have never heard of avro, so no idea!

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  21. Hi Nupur,
    Tried it with lima Beans.Came out so good.Was a hit with kids with yoghurt rice.Thanks for sharing Durga.

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  22. Durga, I'm so glad you enjoyed the lima bean version of this dish! Thanks a lot for the feedback...I really appreciate it!

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  23. yummy food.
    I hope can eat direct from the photo .
    hope i can make it easily too.

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