I was contemplating whether to post this now or later. But during Ramadan, even though we love to eat a lot of non-veg dishes, there are times when you would like vegetarian fare and you would prefer eating something that wouldn’t make you miss non-vegetarian food. This casserole perfectly fits the bill in every way.
Let me start with a story. Last January when my parents were here, we were invited for dinner to HD’s local friend’s sister’s house. It is the first time I am eating at a local’s house. Expats in the Gulf countries may understand when I say “first time”. I do have a couple of local friends but we always end up meeting and eating out. The beauty of most of the Gulf countries is you do not feel like you are living in a foreign country, especially if you are an Indian, and particularly a Keralite. OK, so coming back to the dinner, we received a warm welcome, over some dates and Qahwa. In all the vast dishes that was a part of the dinner spread, this particular dish totally caught my attention. It didn’t look appetizing, but when she explained to me that she had cooked it and it was something her father had taught her to cook, I had to eat. What was one spoonful, because almost half a plate. After cherishing my fill, I asked her for the recipe, but with her broken English and my even broken Arabic, all I could figure out was yogurt and turmeric. I sincerely regret not knowing Arabic, but that can be a topic of discussion for later…
I have been wanting to make this since then and have been googling for a recipe that is at least close to it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find even a single link. 🙁 There were casseroles with these ingredients but either they were the Moussakka or a vegetarian version of it. Finally, I decided I am going to figure it out myself. The Emiratis use a lot of Madras curry powder in their dishes, and I had got myself one small tin – I used this brand – to try a few recipes that uses it. I decided I was going to use this stash of mine into this dish, even though I wasn’t 100 percent confident. She had told me that they deep fry the potatoes and aubergines, which I didn’t do, to save some calories. I parboiled the potatoes and shallow fried the aubergines. One advice – please cook the potatoes till at least half done. If not, they are bound to give you a headache in the oven. They take forever to bake! 😕 Baring this mistake, everything turned out perfect. Even though the family wasn’t impressed in the first look, I coaxed them to try it and all I received was an empty pan. Yay moment! The sauce was sincerely amazing. The flavor of the curry powder just made it better. I would increase a little more on the yogurt, maybe 1/4 cup more to have a little more sauce. This recipe actually reminded me of this baked yogurt chicken but without the chicken, of course! 😉 Off to this recipe…
Batata Batemjaan ~ Potato Aubergine Casserole
- 4 medium potatoes
- 1 large eggplant/ aubergine - around 500 gm
- 2 large tomatoes
- Olive oil as needed
- Salt and pepper as needed
- Parsley or coriander leaves for garnish
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- 1 1/4 cup yogurt refer notes
- 3 heaped tsp Madras curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- Wash the potatoes well. Slice into thin roundrels. Boil water and drop in the potatoes and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. The potatoes still be partly cooked. Drain and set aside.
- Wash and slice the aubergine into roundrels. Sprinkle salt and set aside in a colander to drain off the excess juices. Wash and drian.
- Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Pan fry the aubergine slices for a minute a side. Drain and set aside.
- Slice the tomatoes into roundrels and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- Keep a large oven plate ready. Layer the potatoes, aubergines and tomatoes in to the dish. Sprinkle black pepper in between.
- Whisk together all the ingredients under "for sauce". Spread on top of the arranged vegetables. Drizzle some olive oil.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Take out, toss all the ingredients so that the sauce coats. Put back into the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes till the potatoes are cooked.
- Take out, garnish with coriander or parsley leaves and serve hot with sides of choice.
You may use regular curry powder instead of Madras curry powder, even though the flavors may be a little different. Add 1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder if using regular curry powder.
Disclaimer – I don’t know how authentic this dish is as far as local cuisine is concerned. But since I had this first time at an Emirati’s house, I am still tagging it under Emirati cuisine. 🙂