Indian cuisine has a long and interesting history of cooking with obscure vegetables. That makes sense when you realise that more than half the nation is vegetarian. From bitter gourd and apple gourd to snake squash, there is a recipe out there that is without doubt full of flavour, most likely wholesome and unmistakably spicy. Eggplant or as it’s known in the rest of the world, aubergine is unusual on the menu in North America but is an integral part of Indian food. This humble and long under-appreciated vegetable is low in calories, and high in dietary fibre and antioxidants. It is one of my favourite vegetables but with it’s slightly bitter undertone I can see why it may be a tough sell on the dinner table.
The robust eggplant or baingan (in Hindi) can take on a lot of flavour and cooking techniques – roasted, fried, cooked whole or stuffed, the options are endless. But an easy and delicious way of cooking the eggplant is the baingan kachri – chickpea flour coated crispy and savoury eggplant fritters. Cooked with just a few spices and a hint of ginger this dish is a hit in our home. Because of the chickpea flour it is high in protein (along with the chickpea flour), vegetarian and even gluten free!
Crispy Savoury Indian Eggplant Fritters
High in protein, this dish works really well as a vegetarian side or as the star attraction on the dinner table for a quick and easy weeknight meal. The combination of chickpea flour and rice flour in the batter gives it a crunchy pakoda-like outer crispiness with the mellow eggplant inside. Delicious! And I’m glad the kids get their daily intake of 5-10 a day with no complaints.
- Use an oil that has a high smoke point and will not add it’s own flavour to the eggplant. I use canola oil for a lot of my Indian cooking for these reasons.
- The batter will keep in the fridge for a few days. You can water it down slightly to make savoury and spicy chickpea flour pancakes the following day.
- The step salting the sliced eggplant is important so that the fritters use less oil and cook faster.
- Serve with coconut rice that complements the eggplant fritters really well.
- One medium sized eggplant - sliced in 1/4 in pieces
- For the batter
- Chickpea flour - one cup
- Rice flour - 1/2 cup
- Onions (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
- Coriander powder - 1 tsp
- Baking powder - 1 tsp
- Pepper - 1/4 tsp
- Water - 1 cup
- Salt for the eggplant and the batter
- Place paper towels on a baking sheet and then line the sliced eggplants on top in a single layer.
- Salt the eggplant liberally. In approx. 10 minutes you will see sweat beads form on the eggplant.
- Place another layer of paper towels to soak up the liquid and push down to absorb up as much of the liquid as possible.
- Flip the slices of eggplant over and repeat.
- Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the batter.
- Add in the water and whisk.
- The consistency of the liquid should be medium-thick so that it sticks to coat the eggplant
- Set the batter aside for 10 mins while you finish prepping the sliced eggplants.
- Pour enough oil in the heated pan to cover the base. Turn the heat to medium.
- Dip the slices in the batter, coat on both sides and use tongs to place in the hot oil.
- 3-4 minutes on either side will see the batter crisp up to a dark golden brown.
- Serve with coconut rice.