Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cauliflower and Aubergine Cooked In A Bengali Style

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When I go to any Indian restaurant for a simple meal, the veggies that I would go for will be the cauliflower or cabbages. So, when I saw this Cauliflower and Aubergine recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's book, "100 Essential Curries", it was bookmarked for my next homecooked Indian meal at home.

Cauliflower and Aubergine Cooked In A Bengali Style

This recipe is rather different, it uses the watery liquid from the soaked mustard seeds which is to be grounded till fine and soaked in water for 20-30 minutes. And the spices used, is a Bengali spice  mixture called Panchphoran. 

  1. Panchphoran is a Bengali spice mixture consisting of fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and kalongi (nigella seeds) mixed in equal proportion. The recipe uses only 1 teaspoon, so I have used a pinch of each to make up 1 teaspoon.
  2. The second picture is a combination of turmeric powder, chilli powder and some water.

  1. The recipe requires brown mustard seeds, but I have used black mustard seeds (2 tbsps).
  2. Ground the mustard seeds in a spice mill to a fine powder (it would still be a little grainy).
  3. Add 175ml of water and leave undisturbed for 20-30 minutes. Do not stir.
  4. After 30 minutes, did not notice any difference at all.
  5. Carefully pour the watery liquid into another bowl (or pour directly into the saucepan during cooking). There will be a thick paste at the bottom of the bowl.
  6. The watery liquid which is to be used in the cooking.
  7. The thick paste at the bottom, to be discarded (it would not be needed for this dish).

The aubergine and cauliflower are first fried till golden brown. I would advise to cut the cauliflower into bigger florets as they seem to shrink a little after frying. And I have used 1 long large Chinese brinjal. Drain on kitchen towel after frying. I did not use any green chillies, simply because I have forgotten to buy it from the market that morning!

Heat some oil in a wok, add in the panchphoran spices and the mustard seeds will start to pop and crackle almost immediately. Add the spice mixture, stir, and add in the watery liquid from the soaked mustard seeds. Add the veggies and salt and continue to cook, covered, for a few minutes until most of the liquid has reduced. Serve.

This is a very tasty and delicious vegetable dish. It goes very well with the Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice (from my previous post) and another of Madhur Jaffrey's pork curry, coming up in next post.

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Cauliflower and Aubergine Cooked In A Bengali Style
(adapted from "100 Essential Curries", Madhur Jaffrey)
Serves 4-6
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds (I use black mustard seeds)
vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 small, slim Japanese or Italian aubergines, each weighing about 250m (9oz), halved lenthways and cut into 4-5cm (1-1/2 to 2 in) segments
1 large cauliflower, weighing about 800gm (1-3/4 lb), cut into delicate florets
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons mustard oil or any vegetable oil
1 teaspoon panchphoran (see note below)
6 fresh green chillies
1-1/4 teaspoons salt

Step One :
Put the mustard seeds in a clean spice or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Empty into a small bowl. Add 175ml (6fl oz) water and set aside to soak for 20-30 minutes, do not stir.

Step Two :
Put vegetable oil, about 5cm (2in) deep, in a wok, deep frying pan or deep fryer and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in the aubergines and deep-fry for about 8-10 minutes, until they are golden brown. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Turn the heat to medium-high to reheat the oil, then put in as many cauliflower florets as the pan will hold in a single layer. Fry until they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Fry all the florets. (The oil can be strained and reused).

Step Three :
Combine the turmeric, cayenne pepper and 2 tablespoons water in a small cup. Set this spice mixture aside.

Step Four :
Put the oil in a frying pan and set over medium heat. When very hot, put in the panchphoran. As soon as the mustard seeds in the panchphoran begin to pop - a matter of seconds - add the spice mixture. Stir once or twice. Carefully pour the watery top of the ground mustard seed mixture into the pan, making sure to leave all the thick paste behind (you do not need the thick paste). Add the aubergines, cauliflower, green chillies and salt. Stir to mix well. Bring to the boil. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until there is only a small amount of liquid left at the bottom of the pan. Serve hot.

Panchphoran is a Bengali spice mixture consisting of fennel seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds and kalongi (nigella seeds) mixed in equal proportion.



  1. That vegetable curry looks very appetizing , Joyce ! The aroma and the taste must be wonderful :)

  2. Joyce, this is so yummy! I love any kind of vegetable cooked in curry, top favorite is aloo gobi - potatoes and cauliflower which I know you are familiar with. I thought of skipping dinner but I'll have to eat my words after seeing your cauliflower and aubergine curry. Hah! Hah!

  3. You must have so much spices, where you live ! ... For me, I'm not a big fan of cauliflower but perfumed this way, why not ?
    Thank you for sharing, Joyce :)

  4. This Bengali curry looks so appetising. Should pair well with capati.

  5. It look very yummy, i like vegetable curry too,

  6. i'm not too fond of cauliflower but if it's curry, i will like it :)

  7. So many spices in your curry, it must be so aroma and tasty :)

  8. Vegetable curry, yummy yummy! Is this bengali style not as spicy as malay style or thai style?

  9. Hi Joyce,

    Being a vege person, I love these spicy vegetable. I can easily eat 2-3 serves of these.