In commemoration of New York City Restaurant Week, we’re excited to share this recipe of eggplant chaat from Junoon’s executive chef Akshay Bhardwaj. (The appetizer is starred on both the Restaurant Week lunch menu as well as its regular menu year-round.)
Junoon is one of the nine one-Michelin-starred establishments participating in the bi-annual city-wide celebration, which runs from July 18 to August 23 this summer in all the five boroughs. The dish is made of tamarind chutney, red onion, crispy eggplant pakora, raita, and chaat masala.
For gluten-free readers, add some pakora recipes to your home collection, as chickpea flour is used to obtain their signature crispiness. In this special recipe, chef Bhardwaj combines chickpea flour with rice flour, which gives the batter light, silky feel.
For the chaat masala recipe:
- 298 grams amchur powder (mango powder)
- 130 grams cumin seed
- 128 grams black peppercorns
- 120 grams black salt
- 120 grams of sea salt
- 60 grams mint
- 43 grams yellow chile
- 43 grams of ginger powder
- 10 grams ajwain (carom seeds)
- 6 grams of citric acid
For the eggplant pakora:
- 1-quart rice flour
- 1/2 quart besan (chickpea flour)
- 1 pinch ground cumin
- 1/2 quart corn starch
- 1 pinch ground turmeric
- 4 quarts canola oil, for frying
- 7 Japanese eggplants, sliced into several 1/6-inch rounds using a mandoline
For the tamarind chutney:
- 1-liter water
- 500 grams tamarind
- 150 grams jaggery
- 90 grams of sugar
- 20 grams deggi march (Indian chile powder)
- 20 grams of ginger powder
- 9 grams black salt
- 4 grams ground cumin
For the raita:
- 500 grams of yogurt
- 75 grams of milk
- 50 grams of sugar
- 25 grams roasted cumin
- Salt, to taste
Flat leaf parsley or cilantro, for a garnish (optional)
1. Prepare the chaat masala: Preheat your oven to 250˚F. Then Spread all ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet and then roast until the spices are somewhat toasted and aromatic, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pan from the oven, shift the seasonings onto a cool surface, and let cool. Once cool, blend into a fine powder. Now Remove from the blender and set apart in a bowl.
2. Prepare the eggplant pakora: Mix the corn starch, rice flour, besan, turmeric, cumin powder and 1 1/2 quarts water in a bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined, without overdoing the mixing. In a 6 litre pot, heat the canola oil to a temp of 350˚F. Once the oil/fat has reached the wanted temperature, dip the eggplant slices one at a time in the batter till fully coated and fry oil until crispy. Then Transfer the fried eggplant to paper towels in order to drain and dust with some of the chaat masala.
3. Prepare the tamarind chutney: at this point,Cook down all of the ingredients until the tamarind is sufficiently soft. Blend till smooth and let cool.
4. Prepare the raita: Intensely mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
5. To serve the dish: Place some 10 to 14 fried eggplant slices on a plate, warming in your oven briefly if necessary (eggplant should be hot and crispy). Spoon the chutney and raita on top, and garnish with some flat leaf parsley or cilantro, if using. Serve and enjoy immediately.