Bengali Spiced Aubergines With Onion

aubergine curry with panch-phora
Bengali five-spiced aubergines

Complex and varied as they are two essential flavours stand out in Bengali dishes: mustard and the unique five-spice blend panch-phoran.

Whole or ground fennel, fenugreek, nigella, cumin and lovage (or sometimes black mustard) seeds are used at the beginning of cooking to season hot oil, in the middle for depth of flavour or towards the end for a fragrant top-note

This simple aubergine dish combines slow cooked onions, ginger and aubergines with five-spice, chilli and turmeric

To illustrate a point five-spice is first used whole to season the oil, then ground along with the other spices

Don’t be tempted to cut short the onions’ cooking time. This step transforms the sugars for a magic alchemy which your nose will surely thank you for

Bengali Five-Spiced Aubergines

Aubergines, onions and ginger are slow cooked with whole and ground Bengali five-spice, turmeric and chilli.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Asian, Bengali, Indian
Keyword aubergine, bangali, indian, spice
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines cubed. I like to peel mine with a carrot peeler
  • 2-3 medium onions sliced
  • 1 inch piece ginger root pounded to a paste
  • 4 fresh plum tomatoes liquidized quartered and unpeeled in a blender – or you can use a tin of tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp whole panch phora (Indian 5-spice)
  • 1 tsp ground panch phora
  • 1/3 tsp ground turmeric root
  • red chilli powder to taste
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Season the oil: add whole panch phora to oil just hot enough for the spices to sizzle and pop whithout burning
  • After a few seconds add the onions, coat them in the spiced oil and cook on a low heat for 10-15 minutes
  • Add in the ginger paste and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes. Add a few drops of water every time the mixture looks dry or like it might burn
  • Add the cubed aubergines and toss for a couple of minutes, coating them with the spiced oil while you gently brown them – you may want to add a drop more oil
  • Add the puréed fresh or canned chopped tomatoes, ground panch-phora, chilli, turmeric and salt to taste
  • Bring to a boil then simmer, covered with a well-fitting lid, until the aubergines are tender but hold their shape (start checking after about 20 minutes). Add a little water as needed
  • Adjust the seasoning and garnish with chopped coriander or mint. Serve with your favourite flatbread and a lentil dish

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