Tawa Baingan

Rasika and Rasika West End, Washington, D.C.

Vikram Sunderam made this stacked eggplant and potato dish at his 2010 Beard House dinner.
Yield: 4 servings

Eggplant:

2 Holland eggplants, or 1 Italian eggplant, sliced thinly
6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

Mashed Potatoes:

2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
Scant 1/4 cup chopped red onion
Scant 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sliced Thai green chile
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt to taste

Coconut Sauce:

2 ounces jaggery or 1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
Scant 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste

Method:

To make the eggplant, combine the eggplant slices, garlic, olive oil, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Set aside.

To make the mashed potatoes, grate the potatoes into a large bowl and set aside. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the cumin seeds. Toast until they start to crackle, about 1 minute. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, and Thai chilies; cook until the tomatoes are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the chile powder and chaat masala and cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to the bowl of grated potatoes. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Season with salt.

To make the coconut sauce, melt the jaggery in a saucepan over a low flame. (If you are using brown sugar, you do not need to melt it first.) Add the coconut milk and chile flakes and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and mix in the peanuts, lemon juice, and salt.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Working in batches, sauté the marinated eggplant slices on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Transfer the cooked eggplant to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.

Heat the mashed potatoes in a medium pot.

Place an eggplant slice on a plate and top with a spoonful of warmed mashed potatoes. Continue adding alternating layers of eggplant and potato until you have at least 4 layers of eggplant and 3 layers of potato. Drizzle the warm sauce over the stack.

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