One ingredient, one spice and ready in ten minutes. I would never expect to find anything similar among Indian dishes, so obviously it was the first recipe I tested from a recently bought cookery book. After several meals served with this delightful side-dish, I am still in awe at its simplicity.
I found this gem in Madhur Jaffrey’s “Curry Nation”, a very interesting collection of Indian and in general South-Asian recipes from UK-based bars, restaurants, also from home cooks who live in Britain, but originate from this part of the world. I have already bookmarked many pages, but when I saw this aubergine stir-fry by Saumya Singh, a banker from London, I almost jumped with joy, not only because it’s such an unusually quick dish, but also because nigella (aka onion seed/black seed/kalonji) is one of my favourite Indian spices. Even though the recipe is unbelievably easy, I have managed to add it my tiny personal touch: the addition of my beloved coconut oil. It has added a wonderful, somewhat buttery aroma that seems to suit perfectly the aubergine. (I have also slightly changed the ratio of the ingredients).
As a mildly flavoured dish, it is fantastic with just anything, not necessarily Indian. I like to have it with meat in any form and a yogurt-based dip/sauce (such as raita or tzatziki).
TIPS: You will find nigella seeds in every Indian (or other South-Asian) grocery shop (also easily on internet), but some vendors will call it by different names (onion seed/black seed/kalonji). The seeds are small, black and when cooked they resemble black mustard, though they are not round. I was also told nigella can be found in North-African shops, but I have never checked.
You can use any aubergine here, but I prefer either the small Asian ones or the “zebra” variety you see above and which has a thinner skin, as well as lighter, almost white flesh.
Preparation: about 10 minutes
Ingredients (serves three as the only side-dish):
1 medium Western aubergine/eggplant or 2 Asian ones, cut into 1cm (about 1/2 in) cubes
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
Heat the oil and stir-fry the seeds and the aubergine at medium heat (if you have a heavy pan, such as cast iron or steel, you might want to lower the heat even more) for maximum ten minutes (or less, depending on the aubergine and the heat). Make sure you stir constantly and don’t burn the aubergine.
Add salt and serve.