Fennel seed and cumin add explosions of flavour for an Indian version of a lightened-up French ratatouille without the onions. Broiling the eggplant reduces the amount of oil needed to give the eggplant a soft interior while keeping the exterior firm enough to prevent it from falling apart.
If you can’t find black cumin seeds (also called nigella seeds), use 2 tsp (10 mL) regular cumin seeds instead.
2 lb (1 kg) eggplant (about 6 Asian eggplants or 2 Italian dark purple eggplants)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, divided
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fennel seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) black cumin seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) regular cumin seeds
1 dried hot chili pepper
4 firm tomatoes, or enough to make 2 cups (500 mL) grated tomatoes
Wash unpeeled eggplants and cut into 2 x 1 in (5 x 2.5 cm) pieces. Toss in bowl with 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt and 1 1/2 Tbsp (22 mL) oil. Transfer to baking sheet and broil on high about 5 in (12 cm) from broiler element (a rack in the middle of the oven usually works) for 8 minutes. Turn eggplant pieces and broil for another 8 minutes. Unstick eggplant from baking sheet, but leave on sheet to cool slightly while toasting spices.
Meanwhile, on coarse side of box grater, carefully grate tomatoes. Discard or dice the peel.
In large saucepan over medium-high, heat remaining 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) oil. When hot, add fennel and cumin seeds, and whole dried hot chili pepper and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, eggplant pieces, and remaining 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Stir and bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with basmati rice for low-FODMAP or grated cauliflower “rice” for SCD and GAPS.