Kasundi Sunday

You already know that my family is eggplant challenged. While I adore the firm meaty vegetable that takes on other flavors, I’m alone in my own home. I’ve managed to create a few acceptable dishes over the years but realistically, my family wants it off the menu.

At the Center of the Recipe

It’s sometimes called brinjal, sometimes aubergine and in my own kitchen, we know it as eggplant. It came to this country via one of our forefathers, Thomas Jefferson, who dabbled as an experimental botanist. Do you know why it is called eggplant? I didn’t until the first small white ones showed up in my CSA. That apparently was the original state and it was most often used as table decor rather than food.

Technically eggplant is a fruit and not an incredibly welcome one, mind you. That could be because it is part of the deadly nightshade family which includes tomatoes and peppers. This food family is often said to be responsible for causing or contributing to inflammation.

The connection between nightshades and inflammation was uncovered largely due to the efforts of Dr. Norman Childers, former Professor of Horticulture at Rutgers University. Dr. Childers began his research based upon his own joint-pain after consuming tomatoes. And his interest in the inflammatory responses to nightshades grew to include our beloved, eggplant. Through his research, Dr. Childers showed that people with stiffness, ache and pain often have a sensitivity to nightshades. Fortunately, I don’t suffer those conditions but should I in the future, I’d experiment with elimination of nightshades.

Historians and botanists and those intersecting the two professions refer to India as  the homeland of eggplant. I believe this to be true as it appears in search engines often and frequently brings those seeking eggplant kasundi to my blog – to no avail. Then, Rukmini Roy over at Trumatter offered to help me out so here is her version straight from her grandmother’s kitchen. I did have to invest about $20 in the ingredients for this meal so rest assured, you’ll be seeing these spices again.

Eggplant Kasundi
Bengali Eggplant with Mustard Seeds

1 large eggplant, cut ends off and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 Tbs black mustard seeds, powdered in a coffee grinder
1 cup water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4-5 Tbs mustard oil
1 Tbs panch pharon mix (equal parts of whole cumin, fennel, fenugreek, mustard, kalunji seeds)
1 cup yogurt
1 1/2 tsp salt
sprinkle black pepper
cardamon powder (optional)

Soak ground mustard seed and cayenne in one cup of water. Cut up eggplant into cubes. Heat mustard oil, put in panch pharon mix and after a few seconds add the black mustard/cayenne water. This will splatter so have a cover ready. Add eggplant and cook. You will probably need to add additional water as the eggplant cooks to keep its level about the same, perhaps another cup. Cover it for the last ten minutes.

When the eggplant is cooked add a cup of yogurt and the salt. Mix and heat up yogurt, but do not allow it to boil. Sprinkle a tiny bit of black pepper and cardamon over the top if you want. This dish also tastes good cold the next day.


Variation: Make this without the yogurt, substituting green chilies for cayenne and using only fennel for the panch pharon mixture.

The rule in my house is that you’re home for Sunday dinner. Bring anyone you like but be in your seat when the meal is served. It’s a Kasundi Sunday today. There’s an extra place set for you.

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89 Comments

  1. DH

     /  August 19, 2012

    I’m so sad that I’m going to miss dinner tonight, despite driving for the last 12 hours to get there by end of day. Guess I’ll just have leftover carne adovada when I get home…save some aubergine for me!

    Reply
  2. Kevin

     /  August 19, 2012

    I love eggplant, and so does Vickie. It’s a long drive for dinner, though. We”ve had eggplant in our garden before, but not this year. Tons of green beans right now. Wish we could join you. Looks delicious.

    Reply
  3. I love the idea of eggplant…but have yet to fall in love with a particular dish.

    Reply
  4. All of our family, including me, is “eggplant-challenged”. However, last spring we were traveling to Italy and before we left I was emailing a chef in Florence to arrange a family cooking class at her cooking school. Her English was better than my Italian, but the result of our exchanges, in which I wrote that my daughters were vegetarian but didn’t like to eat eggplant, was that she understood that we wanted an eggplant dish. So part of the meal (along with ravioli, a green salad, and chocolate mousse) was eggplant parmesan. It was a happy mix-up, as we all loved it and continue to make that dish (but no other eggplant dish!) regularly.

    Reply
  5. Wow! granny’s eggplant kasundi made it here!!! I personally don’t like eggplant but kasundi and fried with chick pea flour are the only two things I eat. Considering I stay in India, it wont hurt to tell you that I’m so coming over for dinner. Save me a seat!
    btw, what are you having the kasundi with? Fresh bread goes well or even chapati :)

    Reply
    • Mmmm. I think it would be great with fresh bread. I ate it straight up on its own and am planning to have it again in the morning.

      Reply
      • Did you like it? Your family, did they take it well? Considering they are Eggplant haters, I wonder how this dish faired :)

        Reply
  6. Yes! I’ll be there! I don’t cook eggplant for myself, but with that recipe and your family, I won’t miss it, Tammy! Yummers…let’s see. What can I contribute…?

    Reply
    • It was actually a fun recipe. I haven’t ground mustard before or cooked with mustard oil. And I made my own spice mix since I couldn’t find that one. I ate it on its own but we had a tray of fresh veg that was a great side.

      Reply
  7. I knew eggplants came from India but I didn’t know they’re technically a fruit. I love family dinners on Sunday nights too xx

    Reply
  8. I love eggplant! and the spices you have used here :) I have serious inflammation issues and I think I should try eliminate tomatoes for a week and see if that makes a difference :)

    Reply
  9. I did not come to love eggplant until I was a young adult.
    I’ve never cooked with mustard oil (or panch pharon spice mixture) either–I imagine it all adds pungent heat to the dish. I’d love to try this Bengali style eggplant. Thanks, Tammy!

    Reply
  10. This looks fantastic! I recently tried a Pinterest recipe for broiling eggplant that was actually really good. I’m thinking about rubbing them with this spice mix and seeing what happens!

    Reply
    • You’d have to put the spice mix through a mill first as some of the seeds are sizable but yes, it would be interesting.

      Reply
  11. Unfortunately I can attest to the causal effect of nightshade foods and inflammation. That said I love eggplant and were I in Phoenix I would have happily joined you for Sunday dinner. Meanwhile I will continue to enjoy your blog!

    Reply
    • Oh yeah! You’re traveling! Need to check out the site again. I was very interested in the nightshade discussion.

      Reply
  12. Lisa H

     /  August 20, 2012

    I didn’t like eggplant until I was a young adult and you had grilled it. Now, when I make moussaka, I grill the eggplant first. The grilling caramelizes the outside of the eggplant unlike broiling it in the oven. I have found, too, that the Japanese eggplant (the long thin kind) are a bit milder in flavor. Being sensitive to the nightshade family, I eat it in moderation. Surprisingly, we are having a Thai eggplant dish tonight! Not so surprising, my kids probably won’t like it–LOL–so I’m also making Vietnamese spring rolls on the side (something they DO enjoy!)
    As for Sunday dinners, we eat together as a family and it is the one day of the week I don’t have to cook. My DH gets to decide the meal and treat me to a night off!

    Reply
  13. A friend sent me to your site knowing how much I love eggplant. This dish looks fantastic. Thank you for sharing.
    I use eggplant in place of tortillas for enchiladas, noodles for lasagna, and English muffin for vegetarian eggs Benedict. They are really quite versatile.

    Reply
  14. I eat eggplant only rarely, but enjoyed this discussion. During our macrobiotic days, we often read about the link between inflammation and nightshade vegetables. Lately have been experiencing some joint aches so should probably attempt to limit the nightshade veggies again. Your recipe does look good, Tammy.

    Reply
    • It sounds like there is some compelling evidence Kathy so if joint pain is an issue, I’d cut back to see if it made a difference.

      Reply
  15. You just don’t quit, Tammy, when it comes to finding ways to use what we have before us! Like eggplants! Thank you for another recipe to help the eggplant challenged. How did your family like it?

    Reply
  16. This book was, truly, my introduction to Indian cooking. I am american but LOVE Indian food, as does my daughter. She’s a vegetarian and hard to please, but she is more fanatical about Indian food than I am! Since the nearest Indian restaurant is 80 miles away, I bought this book so I could learn to cook Indian food at home. To my surprise, ALL my restaurant favorites were in here! My first meal from this book consisted of Lamb with Spinach (Saag Gosht), Green Pea Pilaf (Matar Pulao), Pappad w/chutney,Mango Lassi drinks (Aam Lassi), and Indian Rice Pudding (Kheer) for dessert. It was fantastic, so easy to make, and my family loved it! There’s an Indian market in Albuquerque (Ganesh Grocery) that stocks all the spices and ingredients I needed but couldn’t find locally.

    Reply
  17. I’m going to vote with the rest of your family on this one . . . pass the parsnips, please! :D

    Reply
  18. We’re not big eggplant eaters either. We typically eat them only when they show up in our CSA box. Thank you for sharing some interesting info on them that I’d never heard before. :)

    Reply
  19. Great hook line about being alone in your egg plant desire and your family wanting it off the menu!

    Reply
  20. looks delish! i got an eggplant in my CSA and had fun figuring out how to use it.

    Reply
  21. Lucy

     /  August 20, 2012

    Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe Tammy (and Rukmini’s granny). I briefly worked in a macrobiotic cafe (about 20 years ago). The owner wouldn’t let nightshades in the kitchen or on the menu because he believed they caused inflammation – and this is well before most of us knew or cared about it in our diets. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants fall into the category of “my favorite foods” – all things in moderation is my mantra….still striving to live the mantra though.

    Reply
  22. Sally Mom

     /  August 20, 2012

    Oh again YUM! While I had my son and grandsons here last week, I fixed eggplant ravioli with marinera sauce. They ate but did not question “what”.
    I buy a lot of my herbs and spices from BANYAN BOTANICALS on line. Very reasonable and organic. They have a KITCHARI spice mix I use with many things, including eggplant dishes. I will send some to you and Lisa!

    Reply
    • I’m not familiar with Kitchari but the Indian spice store where I shopped was not familiar with panch pharon so I made my own. It’s a big country and the tastes are as different as the languages.

      Reply
  23. Here is our families favorite eggplant recipe http://www.salon.com/2010/06/26/melted_eggplant_pasta_sauce_recipe/

    I have found if I cook this as it says and then put it in the blender and then spread over pasta we all adore it even more! Don’t be fooled by the crazy tan bland color when it comes out of the blender. Just toss with the pasta and it will stick like pesto. My 2 1/2 yr old and 5 yr old even devour it, no bribes necessary.
    I would love to try your recipe, it looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing and I love Sunday dinners! The idea of “you can bring anyone, just be in your seat when dinner is served” is a great one. I will have to use those rules in my own house when they become necessary :)

    Reply
  24. LOVE this post! Even though I have yet to receive eggplant in my CSA this year, it is notorious for being the odd man out. Come and add this link to the CSA link party when you get a chance. http://inherchucks.com/2012/08/15/whats-in-the-box-39/. Hope to see you there!

    Reply
  25. Now I just need some eggplant from the CSA…maybe today will be my lucky day?

    Reply
    • I hope you do because as one of the true cooks out there, I’d love to see what you think and how you modify this. I like the recipe but it’s very pungent.

      Reply
  26. I must admit eggplants are among my least loved veggies … :P

    I didn’t know about the link about nightshades and inflammation, thank you for telling! I love tomatoes and go through phases when I eat a lot of them, so now I’ll observe whether I feel different then and get more problems with my elbow joint.

    Reply
    • Do check it out. It’s pretty interesting stuff and some swear that there is a link. Do you keep a food diary Kath?

      Reply
  27. This dish sounds delicious. I make a grilled eggplant dish with similar spices, having spent the past year or so dabbling in Indian cuisine.

    Reply
  28. Huh. Agrigirl, I am SO glad that I come to visit your blog. This is a wealth of info that I had never considered, or really cared much about. And we’re only talking about an eggplant! So, now I am seriously concerned about inflammation and nightshades..I’ll have to do some little experiments here at home, since I have weird bouts of inflammation from time to time.

    Other than that, I would like to give three cheers for eggplant parm.

    Reply
    • I really like eggplant but the nightshade evidence is real and should be considered. If you have struggles with it, you ought to take note.

      Reply
  29. Great post, Tammy.
    Unfortunately, I’m one of the people with a severe reaction to nightshades, especially eggplant. The seasoning mix and preparation for this dish sounds wonderful. I’ll bet it would work with something less inflammatory, like potatoes. I might give it a try.

    Reply
    • lauren, do you really notice a difference? I’m amazed by the people who say that they can tell and by the number who say they are going to watch it. This dish would work with potatoes just fine. It’s a very different flavor.

      Reply
  30. I’m getting lots of eggplant in my CSA these days. Always good to have new recipes. The spice combo sounds delicious!

    Reply
  31. Oooo wonderful, I was just looking for an eggplant recipe! I have a hard time with eggplant, but this looks like something I would like!

    Reply
  32. What a truly appetizing & divine eggplat aka aubergines creation: rich with real depth flavour!
    I can’t wait to make this lovely dish! Yum Yum Yum!

    Reply
  33. Was wondering what to do with my eggplant. Grew it for the first time this year. Maybe I’ll give this a try.

    Reply
  34. My family is a fan of eggplant. Have you tried eggplant with dill and mint before? This recipe is definitely going up our table :)

    Reply
  35. How interesting…thank you for this insight into nightshades, Tammy, which I was completely unaware of. Although I enjoy eggplant, it’s a bridge too far for Dave. He’s tentatively exploring sweet potato at the moment:-)

    Reply
  36. Apologies, Tammy, I’m late! Eggplants: I had no idea they were part of the nightshade family! This looks a great recipe, must try it. I may already have mentioned that I ordered a vegetarian burger at the pub opposite Jane Austen’s house: they served a large slice of eggplant as the main part of it with the most wonderful salad and feta dressing. Stunning stuff. I’d love to work out how to make it. I’m usually a disaster with eggplants.

    Reply
  37. Keep fighting for the eggplant. It is a delicious vegetable when cooked right and looks like you made several delicious recipes already. We had eggplant salad with tofu and others greens 2 days ago. Yummy. Have a great weekend.

    Reply
  38. The eggplant in my garden is starting to really produce and your recipe is definitely going to be on the menu! I did not know the nightshade family was inflammatory in our bodies. All I ever read about was how great tomatoes are with all that lycopene and such. I am going to experiment to see if this is contributing to the arthritis in my feet. (Gosh, I hope not!) Many thanks!!!

    Reply
  39. Hi Tammy! Thanks for supporting my blog. I really love the topics you share on yours. I would love to pick your brain sometime on how to create and maintain a successful blog! I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Check out my post at http://www.floraseasons.com.

    Reply
    • You are well on your way to creating a very good blog. I love your writing and your topics. I am not much of an expert but am happy to share anything I know.

      Reply
  40. Your words regarding the connection between inflammation issues and the nightshade family were new to me, though I’ve heard whisperings about tomatoes before. Time for more research and experimentation. My mom has troubles in this area, and I do on occasion. Thanks, Tammy.

    Reply
  41. Oh my goodness you have reminded me that I haven’t had this dish in AGES, we use dto make it more often but has somehow slipped off my radar. Thank you so much for a great recipe Tammy :) I have to add I found your post about it’s origins and the science fascinating

    Reply
    • I hope you like it. I might salt the aubergine first and then rinse it to get rid of bitter taste. I really like this but it’s a recipe just for me.

      Reply
  42. I have made your tasty dish & my hubby & I loved it so much, dear Tammy! :)
    xxx

    Reply

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