Monday, February 21, 2011

Eggplant Parmagiana by Nitai Sundara

I only have this recipe in (mostly) European measurements (I assume all of Europe uses deciliters?) so others will have to convert. You can use any tomato sauce you want, but please, for the love of Italian Gods, leave the mustard seeds and cumin out of this one :) The chickpea flour in this is not to make them pakoras, but it makes a thin batter t...hat acts like egg in a normal version, helping the bread crumbs to stick.Tomato Sauce:
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ t asafoetida powder
1 T tomato paste
1 t italian seasoning
1/8 t red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne powder
1.5 kg diced tomatoes, pureed
¼ t black pepper
1 T brown sugar
2 ¼ t salt
1 ¼ deciliters minced fresh basil (divided)

1 kg eggplant sliced into 1/3-inch-thick rings
2 t kosher salt
olive oil for coating baking sheets
1 ¼ deciliter chickpea flour
¼ t salt
¾ deciliter
4 ¼ deciliters bread crumbs*
1 ¼ deciliters parmesan cheese
1 t italian seasoning
6 deciliter shredded mozzarella cheese
*These bread crumbs are best made by taking bread and processing it in a food processor until it becomes fine crumbs.

Toss the eggplant slices with kosher salt and put them in a colander to drain for 40 minutes. This and the next step will make it so that the eggplant does not become very soggy in the final preparation.

After the eggplant has drained for about 40 minutes (don’t go to long or else it will lose too much liquid) lay all the slices out flat between 2 layers of paper towels and press down with all your strength. This further removes some liquid and will not damage them at all, so don’t worry.

During the 40 minutes that the eggplant rings are draining prepare the sauce by heating the olive oil over medium heat, briefly sauteeing the asafoetida and then the tomato paste, italian seasoning, and red pepper right before adding in the pureed tomatoes. Add the remaining ingredients (but only half of the basil) and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes like a thin pasta sauce, 20-30 minutes. Add the remaining basil after the sauce is off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 245C and place the rack in the lower-middle position. Spread olive oil on one large or two medium metal baking sheets. Mix the bread crumbs, italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese in a bowl and set aside. Whisk the chickpea flour, salt, and milk together in another bowl. The mix should be fairly thin.
One-by-one, dip the eggplant rings in the batter, wiping any excess on the lip of bowl, and then drop the ring into the bowl of bread crumbs, sprinkling more crumbs on top so the ring is covered in bread crumbs. If the batter is too thin and it is dripping too much into the breadcrumbs, whisk in more chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Set the breaded rings on the baking sheets and repeat until all slices are breaded.

Bake the eggplant rings for 30 minutes or until both sides are crispy, flipping with a metal spatula halfway. Leave the oven on after the eggplant is done.

Spread 3 ½ deciliters tomato sauce across the bottom of a 33 by 22 cm glass baking dish. Place half of the eggplant rings in the dish, covering the bottom and overlapping if necessary. Spread another 1 ¾ deciliter of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle half of the mozzarella. Layer remaining eggplant and spread 2.5 deciiliter more of sauce, leaving much of the eggplant exposed so that it will stay crisp. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and back for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is browning and bubbly. Cool for a few minutes and sprinkle with a little fresh basil and parmesan cheese.
Serve hot with extra sauce available on the table.

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