We love eggplant for its ability to soak up flavors. The downside is how the eggplant flesh turns soggy fast when cooked longer than is necessary. One solution is to dip eggplant in well-seasoned batter. The eggplant soaks up the flavors in the batter while the batter turns crispy during frying.
Two tips for cooking this deceptively simple dish:
- Use rice flour. Unlike wheat flour, rice flour is gluten-free and, therefore, makes a crispier crust. Make sure, however, that you use regular rice flour and NOT sticky rice flour.
- Do the frying in batches to prevent the temperature of the oil from dropping too much. This ensures that the batter turns crispy before the eggplant flesh gets overcooked and soggy. How many slices per batch depends on the size of the eggplant rings and the size of the pan.
When my husband cooked this spicy eggplant dish, he intended that it be served as a main course. To make the meatless meal more appetizing, I cooked the rice with pandan, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric and a pair of kaffir lime leaves.
While the rice cooked, the batter was prepared and the eggplants were sliced. In that order. Eggplant flesh discolors fast when exposed to air so minimize the time between cutting it and cooking it.
As soon as the eggplants were sliced, each piece was dipped in the spicy batter and pan fried on both sides until a light crispy crust formed and the eggplant slices were cooked through.
Garam Masala Eggplants
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 1 teaspoon grated turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 2 pandan leaves
- 3 slices dried galangal
- 1 kaffir lime leaf
Garam masala batter
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons rice flour - (see notes after the recipe)
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
To cook the eggplants
- 2 large eggplants - the kind with wide girth is best for this recipe
- cooking oil - for frying
Cook the yellow rice
- Place the rice in the cooker and add the correct amount of water (see tips).
- Stir in the grated turmeric and salt.
- Tie the lemongrass and pandan leaves into knots, drop into the rice along with the galangal and kaffir lime leaf.
- Cook the rice until all the water has been absorbed.
- With a fork, fluff up the rice grains.
Prep the eggplant garam masala
- While the rice cooks, mix together all the ingredients for the batter. Add just enough water to form a batter just thick enough to stick to the eggplant slices.
- Cut the eggplants into rings between one-fourth and one-half inch.
Fry the eggplant garam masala
- In a frying pan, with the heat set to medium, pour in enough cooking oil to reach a depth of about a quarter inch.
- Dip each eggplant slice in the garam masala batter then lay in the hot oil until the batter on the underside is crisp. Flip to fry the opposite side.
- Serve the eggplant garam masala with yellow rice.