An Eggplant Pilaf Recipe
Japanese eggplants and fragrant basmati rice tossed in the aromatic vangi bhath masala makes for an absolutely delicious meal!! Traditionally small eggplants, native to southern India are used, they are heartier and hold flavors very well. But it is common practice to use the longer variety in the US since it is easily available here. We particularly like this variety. The Japanese eggplants are subtly sweet and work very well in this recipe. I highly recommend using the long, slender variety for this recipe.
Synonymous to Karnataka is the MTR brand of spice mixes. That is one ready to use brand that I regularly use as I find them pretty good in taste and quality. Sometimes we need that little extra help in the kitchen and such established brands are a huge help. One can find MTR spice mixes in any Indian grocery store across the US. If you cannot find it, use Garam Masala powder or the Madras Curry Powder or a combination of both. This alternate works great as well! PS : this is not a sponsored post, I just like MTR :)! This is how I make vangi bhath for us, there are so many variations out there. and each one unique in its own way.
Check Notes for variations and also how to make it vegan.
Recipe : Vangi Bhath
|Prep Time : 15 minutes||Cook time : 15 minutes (including rice cook time in an IP)|
|Spice Level – 🌶🌶||Ease Level – 😃|
|Serves 4 to 5||Rice/ Entree|
- Japanese Long Eggplant – 2 medium sized ones – cut into 1 inch pieces
- Red onion – 1 small – thinly sliced
- Green chili – 2 or to taste
- Curry leaves – 4 or 5
- Ginger Garlic paste – 1 teaspoon each
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Peanuts – 1/4 cup or to taste
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Kashmiri chili powder – 1 teaspoon
- MTR Vangi Bhath masala – 1 tablespoon
- Garam Masala – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Oil as needed (I used ghee)
- Cooked basmati rice – 4 cups
- Frozen green peas – 1/4 cup (optional)
How to :
- Prep the Eggplant : chop the top and bottom ends off, slice the eggplants vertically in half and then slice them horizontally into 1/2 inch thick pieces, the slices should look like a half circle/ semi circle/half moon, see pic 2. Add them to a bowl and add some turmeric powder and a generous amount of sea salt, say 1 tablespoon. Do not worry, we won’t oversalt the dish. This marination helps extract most of the water in the eggplant. Let them marinate for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, cook the basmati rice, and the easiest way is to cook it in an electric pressure cooker if you have one. BAsmati rice 1 1/4 cup, water 2 cups, Pressure cook on High for 4 minutes, release pressure as soon as possible, remove to a large mixing bowl and fluff with a fork. Set aside until the eggplant mixture is ready.
- Heat a heavy bottom skillet on medium high heat, add oil or ghee , say 2 tablespoons, once hot add the cumin seeds, let toast for 30 seconds.
- Now add the peanuts and let them toast well, say for a minute.
- Next add the curry leaves, slit green chilis and the sliced onions, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and let the onions cook until light golden brown.
- Once the onions are well cooked, squeeze all the water out from the chopped eggplants by taking one handful at a time and squeezing the excess moisture out. You should get as much water out as possible. The drier they are the better they cook and keep their form. Add them to the skillet.
- Cover and cook only for 2 minutes, then remove lid and cook uncovered until the eggplant is well cooked, takes less than 5 minutes.
- When the eggplants are well cooked, add the chili powder, garam masala and the MTR vangi bhath masala powder.
- Check for salt and add to taste. Mix everything well and let cook for a minute.
- Once this mixture looks well cooked add it over the cooked rice and gently mix it in. Check for salt and add another teaspoon of ghee if you like. It is all done and ready to be served with some chopped cucumbers or carrots or raita (seasoned yogurt).
- Use any variety eggplant you like, just make sure you get the excess moisture out so that they do not cook to a mush.
- Alternatively use bell peppers or a combination of peppers and eggplant, this works excellently in this recipe as well.
- Use brown rice or quinoa or any grains or millet of choice instead of white basmati rice. Make sure to cook the grains in the right consistency for a pilaf/pulao
- Use any spice powders of choice or any brand you like, the MTR is just a suggestion. You can add whole garam masala (cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf,etc) instead of the powder.
- For a vegan Indian version, cook it all in coconut oil, it will taste great and will be a great addition of flavor as well!
We washed it down a nice tall glass of buttermilk and I highly recommend that too !! Like I always mention, this is a very customizable recipe, so make it your own and enjoy ! Thank you for stopping by !