Spicy Eggplant Crisps
Have I ever told you how much I love spicy food? I have a secret love for very very spicy food. I say secret, because spicy food results in some digestion issues for me if I don’t eat it right. Like, when I don’t pair it with some yogurt or milk-based food. Or when I eat something spicy first thing in the morning. Yes, I have been known to eat a really spicy curry for breakfast too. *sigh*
However, my secret penchant hasn’t been all so secret lately and I have been grabbing up every opportunity to treat my senses. So when my sister’s Mother-in-law visited recently from India, I knew she’d make some seriously delicious spicy stuff, owing to her expertise in Maharashtrian cooking. Maharashtrian cooking is inherently blessed with lots of piquant and pungent flavors, owing to the high usage of chilies, whole and ground spices, peanuts, coconuts and tamarind. To me, the Maharashtrian cuisine comes a close second to Bohra cooking, which is the cuisine I grew up eating.
During one early spring, cold Minnesota evening, when all we could feel were remnants of the horrible winter, but clearly sense the warmth of the summer, we all craved something spicy, something tangy, something to go with steaming cups of masala chai. And the result was these yummy Eggplant Crisps. Watching aunty make the appetizer was a lesson in simple, uncomplicated cooking. She first thinly sliced a large eggplant and laid each slice out flat on a plate. Then, she did a spice rub on both sides of each slice, covered them in rice flour, and patiently toasted them in a little oil until they were crisp and golden brown. The kitchen smelled divine.
I expected a monotone of spice. But the taste was surprising and a pleasant shock to the mouth. Once I got over the crisp texture, the explosion of spices went really well with a sip of hot chai. And not to mention, it was incredibly warming. It was hard to believe something so delicious, so delightfully spicy, was so easy to prepare.
I have modified the recipe to keep this dish’s flavors intact, but reduced the amount of spice to make it a little more palatable for the humid summer months. Try it the next time you make simple lentils and steamed rice and you’ll make a special meal out of it.
You will need:
- 1 large eggplant
- Spice rub: for every 2 teaspoons of chili powder, add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon salt (keep mixing a little spice rub at a time and season as per preference)
- Fine rice flour (do not get the coarse variety)
- Vegetable oil for toasting – keep aside in a bowl with a spoon
- Make one portion of the spice rub (2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp salt) and keep aside. Make more portions as you go along. In a large bowl, place some rice flour
- Slice the eggplant in circular discs about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thickness. Place flat on a plate
- Sprinkle some spice mixture on one side and rub it across the eggplant. Repeat on the other side
- Coat each slice in rice flour and dust excess off. Let the slices rest for 5-10 minutes before you toast them
- Coat a non-stick frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil. Place the slices of eggplant and toast on medium to high heat until both sides are golden brown and crisp. Pour drops of oil around each slice while they cook, to prevent them for burning and to facilitate the crisping process
- Once ready, allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack and serve immediately with hot chai, or rice and lentils, or as a side veggie dish for dinner