Smokey Eggplant Puree
Another versatile side compatible with Indian, Caribbean, Persian and Western meals. We're letting the genie out of the bottle here folks - this is one of our most popular dishes at various Cafe Drake cooking classes!
Start with 1 very large or two medium black eggplants, the Italian variety found at every supermarket. Slice in half lengthwise and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (to help catch the sweet juices released during cooking). Roast undisturbed for 45 minutes or so in a 450 degree oven. When the eggplant is very soft remove, allow to cool, and then scrape all the flesh from each half. Chop roughly and discard the skin. Set aside.
Heat 3 T. oil (vegetable, olive etc) in a skillet and fry 1 1/2 cups of diced onion until richly browned. Over low heat this may take 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now add 1/2 t. turmeric, 1 minced green chile, about 3/4 t. salt and 1 t. sugar. Stir well then add in about 1/2 t. cayenne pepper (or to taste) and 1 t. smoked paprika. Stir then pour in 1 cup milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and add the chopped eggplant.
Cook uncovered for 10 minutes or until 90% of the milk has been absorbed by the eggplant. Turn off the flame and cover the dish for 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Serve warm sprinkled with either chopped mint leaves or cilantro. Tiny rings of slivered shallots or raw onion are also highly appreciated.