The most attractive vegetable to me is the eggplant (we Trini’s call it baigan or melongene). Its smooth, shiny, purple skin makes it a favorite vegetable to plant in your backyard. If cared properly for, the plant can last for more than a year, yielding baigans regularly. Nowadays, with the price of food skyrocketing, I myself have begun planting baigan and other vegetables in my backyard to save on my food bill.
A Baiganee Recipe
Testing for ripeness is easily done by simply pressing the skin with your thumb; if it springs back it is ripe. However, baigan is a very perishable vegetable. It discolours quickly when it is cut and it wrinkles if it is stored too long in the fridge. It also has a unique taste and texture.
In Trinidad and Tobago, baigan (eggplant) is either cooked by itself or becomes a complementary ingredient in many recipes. It is eaten with or without its skin and prepared byeither roasting, baking, frying or stewing. If it is roasted, as in the recipe for baigan choka, its flesh is scooped out. Some other popular baigan or melongene recipe in Trinidad are moussaka, stew chicken and melongene, baigan tamatar (eggplant cooked with tomatoes), and baiganee. Eggplant is also stuffed with meat, cooked in tomato sauce, and baked. Today, I am posting baiganee, which is eaten as a snack. The baigan is cut thinly and fried in a split peas batter. If you worry about the amount of oil eggplants soak up because of its spongy texture I have included some cooking hints below…
Ingredients for split peas batter:
1 cup split peas powder
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. saffron powder
2 tsp. baking powder
½ cup flour
1 baigan (eggplant)
Wash the baigan first and then cut off the ends. Slice eggplant in ¼” slices. Pat the eggplant dry with a clean towel. Mix the flour, salt and black pepper in a flat tray. Coat the baigan with the seasoned flour. Set aside.
For split peas batter:
Mix split peas powder and all other ingredients (garlic, salt, curry, saffron, and baking powder). But water. Add enouth water to make a thick batter. Taste for salt and black pepper. Heat oil in large heavy pot. In order to test the batter, drop a teaspoonful and cook until slightly brown. Drain and break open. If too dry, add more water to mixture. if batter is thin add more flour.
Pat split peas batter on both sides of the baigan. Fry in hot oil until cooked on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve cool.