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