Stuffed Eggplant with Paneer and Chickpeas

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Stuffed Eggplant with Paneer and Chickpeas
Eggplant is one of my favorite vegetables to work with, and also, I think, one of the more under-appreciated ones in this part of the world, despite its popularity in many cuisines around the world. When I was growing up, family meals always featured vegetables, but eggplant never once made an appearance. Unlike other vegetables, it does not have much flavor one its own, but the beauty of eggplant is that, when prepared with some love and attention, it takes on the flavors of what it is combined with and then really shines in its own right.

One of favorite ways to prepare eggplant is to roast it in the oven which brings out its natural sweetness. In this dish, I've turned it into an especially nourishing and sastifying meal by stuffing the eggplant shells with plump chickpeas, an array of Indian spices, spinach, and delectable paneer cheese. Admittedly, you'll need to put aside some time for preparation, but the result is highly worth the effort. Additonally, you'll want to keep this recipe in mind for special occasions when you want something that not only looks fancier, but is also quite filling.
Stuffed Eggplant with Paneer and Chickpeas
Stuffed Eggplant with Paneer and ChickpeasStuffed Eggplant with Paneer and Chickpeas
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on March 21, 2024

Eggplants stuffed with Indian spices, chickpeas, spinach and paneer cheese and then roasted — attractive, filling and nourishing

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 35 to 40 minutes

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  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (1/3 cup dried)
  • 3 medium or Italian eggplants, about 3/4 lb (340 g) each
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 12 oz (340 g) paneer cheese, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • small handful of dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, roughly seeded and diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 lb (225 g) fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, trimmed and chopped
  • paprika for garnish
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until buttery soft — about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

  • Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a knife and sharp spoon, carve out the center of the eggplant, leaving about 1/3-inch thick edge along the sides and bottom. Transfer the scooped out eggplant to a strainer, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with sea salt and the ground cayenne, and leave to drain on paper towel.

  • Heat the oil in a large wok or saucepan over medium heat. Add the paneer cheese cubes and fry until browned evenly, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the paneer cheese with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  • Return the pan to the heat and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, and ajwain seeds, and fry until the mustard seeds turn grey and being to splutter and pop, about 60 seconds. Now add the asafetida and curry leaves, stir once, and then add the ginger and chilies and stir for another minute or two. Add the chopped eggplant and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the tomatoes, ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and red pepper, and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the tomato has softened, stirring often.

  • Now add the spinach, 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt, and basil, and cook for another 10 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the paneer and cooked chickpeas until well combined.

  • Grease a large glass casserole dish and preheat an oven to 350°F. Pat the eggplant shells dry, brush with a bit of oil, and fill evenly with the cooked filling. Place the filled egglplant shells into the baking dish and bake for about 1 hour until the shells have browned somewhat and tender. Sprinkle each eggplant shell with a bit of paprika for garnish.

  • Let the eggplant cool for 10 mintues and serve on a bed of hot, fresh cooked buttered rice.

Makes 6 servings
Stuffed Eggplant with Paneer and Chickpeas

Other eggplant dishes to enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Eggplant and Green Pea Curry (Baingan Matar Masala)
Stuffed Eggplant Poriyal
Roasted Eggplant Involtini {Vegan}
Drumstick Sambar with Seared Eggplant

On the top of the reading stack: The Abolition of Man by C.S Lewis

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