I had promised Sharmila I’d make these and share the recipe. I am not big on begun; except of course our begun pora. Its no secret that I am no fan of vegetables. At the risk of sounding clichéd, vegetables make a pocket around my throat. Till today.
My Mother makes this recipe with great care. She’d score each tiny eggplant and stuff with potent green chillies and plump garlic cloves. I, however have taken the short-cut (read lazy) route and just sautéed the chillies and garlic with the eggplants. You, however should do it my Mum’s way.
Ingredients for Petite Eggplants in Posto/Poppy Seeds are:
8-10 petite eggplants, keep whole and just slit the bottom to form a “quarter”, while each eggplant still hangs from its stem
1 medium size red onion, slivered thinly
2 medium ripe, red tomatoes, chopped coarsely
10-12 fat cloves of garlic
10-12 plump-looking green chillies (I used green and Thai red)
Quarter cup posto/white poppy seeds/khus-khus
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
3-4 tablespoons Mustard/Canola oil
Start by heating mustard oil in a wok/karahi. Drop the whole, slit eggplants and sauté them for 4-5 minutes. Add the green chillies and garlic midway of your sautéing process. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep.
If your eggplants have drunk all the oil, add a couple of spoons more. Now add the slivered onions and sauté them on high till they get a color of something in-between a glistening pink and tan brown. Add the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes with red chilli powder and turmeric, till juices start to surface up.
Now add the already sautéed eggplants, garlic and chillies. Mix well, and coat them well with the onions and tomatoes. Add half the poppy seeds and season with salt and sugar. Cover and cook on low heat for five minutes. Check. At this point in time, you can add half a cup of water to the eggplants. This will help to cook them down.
Continue to cook the eggplants on low-medium heat, covered all the time. After about 5-7 minutes, open lid, you will notice the oil surface on the sides. The color of the dish would have changed too. To a rich red.
Poke a skewer in an eggplant to see if its done. I like mine a little mushy. Now sprinkle the rest of the poppy seeds and crank the heat up. Adjust the consistency of the dish to how you will like it. I like my onion and tomatoes to be a little clingy to the eggplants. Makha makha in Bengali. The mushiness of the eggplants and the crunch of the poppy seeds will create an interesting texture to this recipe. And if you have stuffed the eggplants with the chillies and garlic, you will enjoy their juices permeate into the tiny purple begun.