North Indian Chicken and Eggplant Casserole

I’ve just arrived home from Nicaragua on a trip with Rotary to visit Cenao, an ophthalmology clinic that we’ve equipped with diagnostic and surgical equipment, and all I want is some home cooking. Of course that means anything but “typical” American fare, so Jon searches Ismail Merchant’s Passionate Meals- The New Indian Cuisine cookbook. Because our eggplants in the garden are ready to go, he lands on Shemali Gaye ke Tukre Baygan-walla. Translation: North Indian Beef and Eggplant Casserole. He intended to substitute lamb roast for beef, but upon pulling it from the freezer, found it had gone bad, so we used some chicken we had leftover from an Asian noodle bowl we cooked a few weeks ago.

Per usual, I was skeptical when he read the list of ingredients: plain yogurt, eggplant, and Serrano chiles? Okay, I’ve learned to trust his instincts and so he set to work. It’s always so much fun to watch him “harvest” our crop for the veggies. In this recipe we used eggplant, scallions, bell pepper, and chilies from our garden. The recipe has been adapted a bit to accommodate what was available in our garden, but the result was pretty spectacular. Perhaps not much to look at, this dish packs a powerful punch- spicy, fresh and juicy. It turned out a bit more watery than we anticipated, but that did not detract from the taste. Next time we’d cook it a bit longer, pour off the excess broth and bake it without the yogurt, adding it later to taste. Or, we’d serve it as a soup in a small bowl in addition to a meal. Either way, we will definitely make this again.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb rotissiere chicken
  • 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 glove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant
  •  3 or 4 small whole scallions, including greens
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • Chopped cilantro


Preparation:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine chicken, 3/4 cup yogurt, 1/2 the salt, 1/2 the pepper, spices and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 1-quart souffle dish. Arrange the eggplant slices on top of the mixture. For the next layer, cover with scallions. Next, layer with green peppers and tomatoes.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 3/4 cup yogurt with the rest of the salt and pepper, and beat with a fork. Spread over to form the top of the casserole. Place the chilies on top an drizzle with remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over the whole dish.
Cover with a lid and bake for 45 minutes and rest before serving. Top with cilantro.
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