SESAME + TAMARIND EGGPLANTS WITH CRACKED WHEAT

The people of Andhra Pradesh love their pungent, spicy, and sour flavors, as well as cooking vegetables in rich pastes made of sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or peanuts. This dish is typical of the region and uses tamarind for sourness and sesame seeds for rich creaminess. I’ve borrowed the cracked wheat from Andhra’s neighboring state Hyderabad to serve the eggplants with.

NOTES: You will need a blender for this recipe. As tamarind paste varies from brand to brand, add it gradually until it tastes good to you.

Serves 4 as a main course

2 large ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1½ teaspoons ground red chile
salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 medium eggplants (2 pounds), cut into 2½ inch x ¾ inch batons
1 cup bulgur wheat
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
a large handful of fresh mint leaves

Place the tomatoes, sesame seeds, garlic, tamarind paste, cumin, coriander, ground red chile, and a teaspoon of salt into a blender, whizz to a sauce, and leave to one side.

Put the oil into a large lidded frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry for 10 to 12 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the sauce to the pan, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the eggplants and 5 tablespoons of water. Stir to mix, then cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, or until the eggplants are soft and tender, adding a splash of water if need be to stop them from sticking.

In the meantime, cook the bulgur wheat. Place the wheat into a heatproof bowl or lidded saucepan and cover with 1¼ cups of freshly boiled water. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt, cover with a lid, and leave to fluff up for around 8 minutes.

To serve, transfer the bulgur wheat to a serving dish, top with the eggplants, dot with the yogurt, and tear up and scatter over the mint.