By Madhur Jaffrey

Eggplant with Minty Tomato Sauce and Yogurt

Yield: 3-4 servings

  1¼ pounds eggplant (the large variety)
  1¼ teaspoons salt
  ½ cup plain yogurt
  Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
  Extra mint sprigs or leaves for garnishing

Minty Tomato Sauce

  ¼ cup peanut or canola oil
  1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
  8 plum tomatoes from a can, finely chopped, plus ¼ cup of the can liquid
  1¼ teaspoons salt
  3 Tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
  1 teaspoon ground cumin
  ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  Freshly ground black pepper

Trim the ends of the eggplant and cut it crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Put the slices in a single layer in a large platter or a lasagna-type dish. Sprinkle the salt over both sides, rubbing it in well. Set aside for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion. Stir and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion pieces begin to brown at the edges and then add the garlic. Stir for a few seconds, then add the tomatoes and the tomato liquid, as well as all the remaining ingredients for the tomato sauce. Stir to mix. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Set aside in a warm place.

To prepare the yogurt sauce, put the yogurt in a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Just before you sit down to eat, put oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches for deep-frying in a wok or deep-fryer and set over medium heat. Take the eggplant slices from the platter and dry them off with paper towels. When the oil is hot, drop in as many slices as the utensil will hold easily and fry, turning now and then, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until both sides are a medium brown color. Drain well on paper towels. Do a second batch, if needed.

To serve, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on a large platter. Top each slice with a dollop of the tomato sauce and then with a tablespoon of the yogurt. Garnish with the mint sprigs or leaves. Serve immediately.