Aubergine Kachri (spicy slices of sautéed eggplant served with a yogurt mint sauce)

INGREDIENTS FOR THE EGGPLANT SLICES:

  • In this recipe, I used 5 medium sized eggplants because that is what my neighbor brought to me from his garden.  If you buy eggplants from the store, you will need 2 large ones.
  • 1/2 a cup of my Indian Spice Mix
  • enough kosher salt to lightly sprinkle over the eggplant slices
  • grapeseed oil to sauté the eggplant

INGREDIENTS FOR THE YOGURT SAUCE:

Kachri Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 cup of plain yogurt.  You can buy it from the store or make some of My Mom’s Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of Labneh.  Labneh is a yogurt cheese made by removing the water content of yogurt.  It is basically extra thick Greek yogurt.  It lends a tangy flavor.  If you can’t find it, use sour cream instead.
  • 1 teaspoon of dried mint
  • 1 small fresh mint leaf to garnish each eggplant slice.
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly toasted and ground cumin seeds.  I will show you how to prepare the toasted cumin powder  later in the recipe.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black salt.  Black salt is an Indian salt with a high mineral content.  If you don’t have this substitute your favorite salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried mango powder.  In India, this is called Aamchoor.  It is the dried skins of small green mangoes.  It lends a complex tart flavor.  You can buy it in an Indian grocery store.  If you can’t find it, substitute lemon juice or Sumac.

PREPARING THE TOASTED CUMIN POWDER:

  • Place a teaspoon of cumin seeds in a small sauce pan.  Turn flame to low and toast until you can smell the cumin.  Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
  • Transfer the toasted cumin seeds to a glass bowl and let them cool to room temperature.
  • Place then in a coffee or spice grinder and whiz until you have a fine powder.

I keep two spice grinders in my kitchen.  One for sweet spices, like the ones I use to make my chai masala, and another for hot and savory spices.  This way I don’t have to clean my spice grinders.  I have had the same grinders for over 25 years and they are still working!!!

PREPARING THE EGGPLANT:

  • Using a serrated knife, cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch discs
  • Lightly sprinkle them with kosher salt on both sides
  • Place in a glass container and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate overnight.  This allows excess water to be extracted from the eggplant.  This process also makes the eggplant less able to absorb oil.
  • Remove the eggplant slices from the glass container and place onto paper towel sheets to dry off excess liquid.  Discard the liquid at the bottom of the glass container.
  • At this point place the salted and dried eggplant slices, in a single layer, into a clean glass container

 

Kachri Sliced

  • drizzle on some grapeseed oil and sprinkle with my Indian Spice Mix
  • turn over the slices and repeat on the other side

Kachri Spiced

  • Add another layer of eggplant slices and coat with oil and spice mix.  Repeat until all the eggplant slices are used up.

Kachri Marinating

  • Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.

COOKING THE EGGPLANT:

  • Coat a large non-stick skillet with grapeseed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium and get the oil hot
  • Once the oil is hot add a layer of spiced eggplant slices.  Do not crowd the pan.  Cook the slices till they are golden brown on the first side.  Flip and repeat until the slice are brown and crispy on both sides.
  • The cooking time is longer than you think.  It is 10 minutes per side.  Once the eggplant is brown on both sides.  Test it with a fork.  Once it is fork tender remove it to a glass baking dish.
  • Continue this process until all the eggplant is cooked.  Keep placing each slice in the glass baking dish once it is cooked.

When I am cooking a lot of eggplant, I use two pans on the stove.  This saves time.

PREPARING THE YOGURT SAUCE:

  • Place all the ingredients, except the fresh mint leaves, into a glass bowl and stir.
  • Taste the salt and adjust the salt to your liking.

ASSEMBLY:  Here I have served the dish family style by arranging the sautéed eggplant slices on a platter.  Garnish each slice with a dollop of yogurt sauce and a fresh mint leaf.

Kachri Feauture

This is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant.  The spices make the dish very flavorful.  The slow sauté makes the outside of the eggplant crispy while the inside stays creamy.  Don’t rush the sauté time because the slow cooking is essential to getting the right texture.  The yogurt sauce adds tang and creaminess.  The mint tops it off with a pop of freshness.

When I am having a sit down dinner party, I put 4 eggplant slices on a salad plate and serve it as the appetizer course.  It can also be served as a main dish for a vegetarian.

I appreciate your feedback, so please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.  ENJOY !!!

Amritsari Masala Fish

My mother’s side of the family is from Amritsar in Northern India.  Many people in India are vegetarians, so that is how I was raised.  No meat, chicken or fish was cooked in the house.  My mom’s younger brother used to like to eat meat outside the home.  My uncle used to put me on his scooter and take me with him on his meat eating excursions.  He would go to a road side stand and order Amritsari Masala Pork Chops and Fish.  He would buy me Tutti Frutti Ice Cream and Pineapple Cream Pastry in exchange for a promise to not tell anyone at home that he had gone out to eat meat.  You see, my grandmother would not have approved of our culinary outing.

The culinary excursions my uncle took me on were definitely a high point of my childhood.  It was so much fun being with my fun loving uncle, riding on his scooter and eating wonderful food.  Today my uncle is a vegetarian and I have become a pescatarian.  When I visit Amritsar next year, I will go back to the road side stand with my uncle, but this time I will have the Amritsari Masala Fish.  Of course, followed by the Tutti Frutti and the Pineapple Pastry.

Here is my recreation of the recipe.  In the feature photo I served it on top of Spicy Pan Fried Okra (Bhindi Masala).  It can be served over any vegetable or grain.  In the photo below I have served it over spiced cauliflower and carrots.

Amritsari Masala Fish Feature 1

INGREDIENTS:  Four Servings

  • 4 pieces of firm white fish.  I used Tilapia loins here.
  • Enough Indian Spice Mix to coat the fish.  If you prepare 1/2 cup of spice mix you should have plenty.
  • 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil to coat the fish and 2 tablespoons to coat the non stick skillet.
  • juice of 1 lime
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

PREPPING THE FISH:

Amritsari Masala Fish Prep

  • Rinse the fish.  Pat it dry with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper and Indian Spice Mix over the fish
  • Drizzle on a tablespoon of grape seed oil
  • Rub in the spices and flip the fish.  Repeat procedure on the second side.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

I have kept the spiced, uncooked fish covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator for a day or more.  If the fish is very fresh, it will keep well.  The spices prevent it from going bad.  This is a good way to prep protein ahead of meal time.

I have also used this same method to prepare, chicken, pork chops, lamb and turkey for my husband.  This Indian Spice Mix is very versatile.

COOKING THE FISH:

  • Coat a large non stick skillet with 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil
  • Turn the flame to medium-high and let the oil get hot.  When the oil is ready it will shimmer.
  • Place the spiced fish pieces in the pan.  You should hear a sizzle.
  • Leave the fish alone to let the spicy crust form.  You will see the fish turn opaque halfway up the sides.  This is the time to turn the fish.  DO NOT KEEP MOVING THE FISH, TURN IT ONLY ONCE.
  • Pour over the juice of 1 lime.  Cover the pan with a lid.  Turn the flame to low and cook for about 2 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Transfer cooked fish on to a platter.  Pour any pan juices over the fish.  Serve immediately.

RECIPE NOTES:

  • I have also used this recipe to make Indian Fish Tacos.  I will post the fish taco recipe the next time I make it.
  • If you are using this recipe with other proteins, please adjust your cooking time so that a good spice crust forms and the protein is cooked to your liking.

 

Indian Spice Mix

I use my Indian Spice Mix in many of my recipes.  I have posted it here so that you can refer to it.  I have also linked this as a reference tip in each recipe where the formula is used.

Starting at the 12 o’clock position, the ingredients are as follows:

Indian Spice Mix Instagram

 

  • Onion Powder–1 part
  • Cayenne Pepper–1 to 2 parts depending on how spicy you want to make it
  • Garam Masala–2 parts
  • Turmeric Powder-1 part
  • Garlic Powder–1 part
  • Red Chili Flakes–1 to 2 parts depending on how spicy you want to make it
  • Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasoori Methi in Hindi)–1 part
  • Smoked Paprika–1 part

I sometimes combine the ingredients in the ratios suggested above.  You can also sprinkle on each spice as needed.

Many of these items can be purchased online or at an Indian grocery store.  Some of these items can be found at your local supermarket.

If you can’t find dried fenugreek leaves, just leave it out. If you use the fenugreek leaves, crush them in the palm of your hand first.  This will turn them into a powder and release their aromatic oils.

I do make my own Garam Masala, but you can buy it.  Every Indian cook has their own recipe for Garam Masala.

It is best to keep your spices sealed in a dry, cool and dark place.  Air, moisture, heat and light cause your spices to go stale quickly.

If you have any questions or thoughts, post them in the comments and I will help you out.