Vangi Bhath is a delicious one pot meal. It is a wonderful combination of eggplant and rice combined with lovely aromatic spices. This is a typical Maharashtrian specialty but enjoyed throughout Southern India as well.
My grandmother was an expert when it came to cooking and this dish was no exception. Whenever we would visit, this dish was made. We would eat it with home made papads (crispy thin lentil wafers), it was a wonderful and delicious combination.
VANGI BHATH (Spicy Eggplant Rice)
2 cups of Basmati rice
2 Japanese eggplants (these are a firm variety that will stand up well to the cooking)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
½ tbsp white sesame seeds
2-3 dried red chilies
½ cup desiccated coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1 tsp garam masala (use kala or goda masala if available)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
6-8 fresh curry leaves
pinch of asafetida
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper, to taste
10-12 toasted, unsalted cashews (large pieces)
2 tbsp yogurt
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
freshly grated coconut as a garnish (optional)
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
Wash and drain the rice thoroughly at least 1 hour prior to use.
In a small dry skillet on medium low heat, toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, dried red chilies and desiccated coconut. Stir fry until fragrant and lightly toasted. Be careful not to burn the spices. Remove quickly from the heat and add the garam masala. Let cool and using a spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder) grind the spices into a fine powder.
Just before needed, trim and cut the eggplant into even pieces (1 inch in size).
In a large deep skillet or soup pot on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the black mustard seeds, asafetida and the fresh curry leaves. Next, add the rice and stir until well coated with the fragrant oil (about 2-3 minutes). Add the cashews, bay leaf, salt, pepper and the freshly ground spice mixture. Mix well to combine and add the eggplant pieces. Saute for about 5 minutes and then add 4 cups of water. Bring to a good boil, cover and reduce the heat. Let simmer until done (around 10-12 minutes). Halfway through the cooking process, add the yogurt and carefully stir through the rice and eggplant mixture. The rice should be thoroughly cooked and the eggplant should be soft and tender. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and freshly grated coconut. Serve hot with papad and yogurt on the side.
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