Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lake Palace Hotel Aubergines Cooked in the Pickling Style (Baigan Achari)

Lake Palace Hotel Aubergines

I've owned my copy of Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery for about 26 years now, and in all that time, whenever I open the book it falls open at exactly the same page - at the recipe for "The Lake Palace Hotel's Aubergine cooked in the pickling style".  I always thought it sounded like a great dish, and I guess it was always inevitable that I was going to make it one day.  As it turned out, it was so awesomely good I'm just disappointed that it took me so long to get around to making it.

Now I must warn you, that like many other Indian dishes (and most "brown" food), this doesn't look nearly as appealing as it tastes.  So, although this is not exactly a feast for the eyes, you're going to have to take a giant leap of faith when I tell you that this is probably my favourite dish I've made so far since I, and my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs, have been cooking with Madhur Jaffrey.

Madhur describes this dish as being "not unlike a spicy ratatouille", and she is exactly right.  It does have a most unusual "pickled" taste.  Madhur says this comes from the black onion seeds suggested in the recipe;  but I didn't use those, so it's obviously not as simple as that.

I ate this as a meal on its own, with just some steamed basmati rice, but it would also make a great accompaniment to all sorts of other dishes.  Madhur recommends it as being particular good with lamb, either Indian style or just simply roasted, and I can imagine that working really well.  She suggests it is also good cold and served with cold meats.

The original recipe serves 6 people as an accompaniment.  I adjusted quantities to make a main meal for myself, with a small amount leftover for the next day's lunch.  Despite reducing the quantity of vegetables in this dish, I kept most of the spices as the original recipe.  Also, instead of frying the aubergine slices, I opted for a healthier version, by roasting the aubergines slices in the oven.  It's also a lot easier than standing over batches of frying aubergines.

This is my contribution to this week's Pot Luck theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and I certainly won't be waiting another 26 years to make this again.

Lake Palace Hotel Aubergines Recipe
Adapted from recipe by Madhur Jaffrey in
Makes 1 main meal with leftovers, or
Serves 2 as a light meal, or
Serves 3 as an accompaniment
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1x medium/large aubergine (about 350g (12 oz))
neutral-flavoured vegetable oil
2.5cm (1 inch) piece ginger, peeled & coarsely chopped
3x cloves garlic, peeled & halved
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1x large tomato, peeled & finely chopped (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F).

Cut aubergine into 1cm (1/2 inch) thick rings, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush them all liberally with some vegetable oil and put into the hot oven.  Once they are beginning to brown (about 10 minutes), flip them over and brush the other side generously with the vegetable oil.  Return to the oven until golden brown - about another 10-15 minutes.  Turn them again if you feel you need to.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Lake Palace Hotel Aubergines 1

Now place garlic, ginger and water in a blender and blitz until smooth.

Heat some more vegetable oil (about 2 tablespoons) in a deepish frying pan over medium heat.  Once the oil has heated, add the fennel and cumin seeds.  As soon as the seeds begin to look toasty and smell fragrant, add the chopped tomato,  the whizzed up garlic and ginger, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper and salt.  Cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture reduces a bit and becomes like a thick sauce.

Add the aubergine slices to the pan, stirring gently to make sure all the slices are bathed in the sauce.  Lower the heat slightly and cook very gently for about 8 minutes.

Serve over steamed rice, as a side dish, or cold as a salad.

Note:  For ease of peeling a tomato - cut a small cross in the base of the tomato, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water.  Allow to stand for about 30 seconds, remove and plunge immediately into a bowl of cold water.  The skin will slide straight off.

If you would like to get to know Madhur a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...


... or check out Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking and many of Madhur's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.

          Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery


  1. This looks lovely, Sue! I love aubergines and I like that you toasted them instead of frying as they tend to soak up a lot of oil. I could just eat this like you did, one dish only with jasmine rice!

    1. Thanks, Joyce. I love aubergines too - one of my most favourite vegetables. Roasting them instead of frying was definitely the way to go - much less work, less mess, and healthier too.

  2. This looks lovely and seems so much easier to make than I would have thought. Thank you for sharing it with your readers. Sara

    1. Thank you so much, Sara. Yes, this was a very easy dish to put together - I've added it to my list of quick and easy stand-by dishes. Thanks for visiting - I hope you'll stop by again.

  3. Sue, these aubergines look fantastic, +1 from me, and nice to call the aubergines again after many years of saying eggplants... BTW, why are they called eggplants in NZ??

    1. Thanks Alessandra - I know you would really enjoy this dish. I don't know why they call them eggplants. I grew up with my grandmother calling them aubergine, which seems to have stuck with me. They were also referred to as brinjal in our household, which I guess is the Hindii name for them.

  4. I just ate those from a jar at my godmother's in Wellington and loved them! I was hoping to find a recipe and here is one, must be providence. I've been going to yoga every day this month - figuring that I need it over the crazy season. Let me know your dates so we can catch up in person x

    1. Ooooo, Sasa, I would never have thought of bottling these, but what a great idea. Hope you try this recipe - I'm sure you'll love it. Great you're doing yoga every day - definitely helps this time of year.

  5. Lovely, we have our curry club night next week and I think I will try this one and a few other veggie dishes instead of meat. Are you coming up to Auckland for Christmas? Yu must come and stay a the beach if yo are. Xx

  6. I'm glad this was worth your 26 year wait! We were on a ratatouille kick all summer--we'll have to give this a try since we like spicy food.

  7. I actually love the way this looks. The eggplants are all saucy with their skins peeking out underneath. I find any kind of saucy dish served over rice extremely comforting. Delicious!

  8. I love aubergine and love the sound of this recipe. I am planning a curry banquet over the summer and will definitely give these a go.

  9. Like you I’ve had madhur Jaffrey’s book for many years but I did the Aubergine dish as soon as I got the book. I love it and have adapted it to my taste over the years. I would recommend using the Nigella (black onion seeds). They give it a meatier taste which adds a new dimension to a wonderful dish.


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