Baigan (Eggplant) Choka

Baigan Choka

Serves 3 – 4:

Since deciding to embrace a Vegan diet – the reasons for this are an entirely different story – I wondered if traveling and sticking to my new way of eating would present an issue. I typically travel to major cities in the US where alternatives are a plenty but recent trip to Trinidad however had me a bit stressed. Now I’ve been to this beautiful country several times and am a HUGE lover of their food and culture. Would I be able to resist the incredible culinary delights? Would I be able to find veggie – specifically vegan – dishes? Or would I starve? Well….much to my delight not only did I succeed in finding vegan dishes, the dishes offered were FABULOUS! Choka typically refers to the method of cooking, where the main ingredient is fireroasted and pureed with onions, garlic and cilantro. It’s origins stem from India and having a large Hindu population you’ll find it’s influences in the Triny cuisine everywhere. Anywho…here’s one of my new favorites. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ onion
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • 4 tbsp cilantro
  • 2 tbsp of EVOO plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt and Pepper

Prep It:

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Dice the onion finely.
  • Slice the bell pepper in half. Remove the ribs and seeds. Dice the bell pepper finely.
  • Chop the cilantro coarsely. Reserve a few leaves for garnishing.
  • Peel the garlic cloves. Slice each clove into quarters.
  • Pierce eggplant 7 – 8 times all over with a knife. Insert a clove a garlic in each hole

Cook It:

  • Roast for 30 – 35 minutes or until the skins begins to char and the eggplant is very soft. Let the eggplant cool.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add 2 tbsp of EVOO to the pan and sauté the onion and bell pepper until the onions become translucent.
  • Slice the eggplant in half, scoop of the flesh and give it a rough chop. Add the eggplant to the onions and bell pepper. Turn up the heat slightly and sauté the veggies for another 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve It:

  • Serve this dish warm with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • The dish pairs well with slices of warmed pita or with warm naan.
  • Pan seared tomatoes make a great accompaniment to this dish.
  • Change it up! Don’t like eggplant? Try swapping the eggplant out with tomatoes. Prepare them exactly as you would the eggplant…yum!
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