small chili pepper, chopped (seeds can be removed if you can't stand the heat)
each salt & pepper
chopped fresh basil
cloves, garlic, peeled & smashed.
Eggplant Preparation: Sprinkle the salt over the top & bottom of each eggplant slice, rub it in good. Place the slices in a colander and allow the bitter water to drain over the sink, for 15 min. Then rinse and pat dry.
Meanwhile, mix the spices and cheese into the panko bread crumbs. Pour onto a large piece of parchment paper.
3. Place the flour into a pie plate, set aside.
4. In another pie plate, whisk the egg and water together. Set aside.
5. Preheat 1/2"-1" of vegetable oil of your choice in a large skillet to #6 or #7 (Drop in a crumb, if the crumb sizzles and rises to the top within seconds, the oil is hot enough)
6. Dip each slice of eggplant one at a time into the flour. Dredge both sides. Then into the egg wash then into the panko mixture. Press with your hands to coat. Set aside. (To keep hands clean you could use tongs to lift pieces into the stations and then with a fork toss the flour or crumbs onto the eggplant then press with your palm, leaving one hand clean)
7. Place several slices into the hot oil and fry to a golden colour turning only once. Do not over crowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Serve the Spicy Sauce on the side.
Sauce: In a medium sized pot on med. high heat add the oil, chili pepper and garlic. Sauté until fragrant and garlic is slightly golden. Pour in the tomato puree, bring to a boil. Add salt, basil and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking for 5 min. Add the paste and continue cooking for another 15 min. Cover with a lid slightly ajar. If the sauce becomes too thick add a touch of water. Adjust for seasonings if necessary.