This silky and flavor-packed eggplant dish was a family favorite when I was a kid. A large batch would be made, a chunk of which we would devour that day by scooping up with fresh-made roti. The leftovers would go into the fridge to lift up our snacks and meals in the coming days. We spread it simply on slices of toasted bread, used it as a dip, and sometimes slathered it on pizza dough, topped with sliced vegetables and parmesan, for a surprising but wonderful Indian-inspired pie. —Tanya
about 3 cups
large, firm eggplants
chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
red onion, finely diced
green chili (such as serrano) chopped, or more to taste
Prepare the eggplant: Turn on your broiler or pre-heat over to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease. Rinse and dry the eggplants. Prick all over with a fork or thin knife to allow air to escape while it roasts. Place on prepared baking sheet and in the oven. Roast for 45-60 minutes, turning every 20 minutes, until the skin is deeply charred and collapsed, and the eggplant has cooked all the way through. Allow the eggplant to cook, then using a large spoon, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. (If you are sensitive to the "bitter" eggplant taste, scoop directly into a large fine mesh sieve over the sink to drain the juices as you work on the "masala".)
Prepare the "masala": Heat the oil in a large pan or medium wok. Add the onion and chili and cook over medium high till the onions have softened and are starting to brown around the edges. (Unlike other Indian dishes, you don't want to brown the onions too much for this recipe). Add the tomatoes and salt (if using canned tomatoes, be conservative with the salt at first) and cook for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have "melted" and their juices mostly evaporated. Add smoked paprika, if desired.
Finish: Add the eggplant to the "masala" and mash with a potato masher or your wooded spoon to desired texture (I like to keep it a little "chunky". Cook for 5-10 minutes till the eggplant has fully taken on the red of the tomato. Turn off the heat, sprinkle over the cilantro and serve with roti, naan, or bread of your choice.