Fried Eggplant Wrap With Tamarind Pluot Chutney
I didn’t make the bread this time, because I bought the flatbread fresh from Shahi Snack & Foods, located in the back of a teeny Nepalese restaurant called Tawa Foods in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Armed with Shahi’s gobi paratha, (gobi means it has cauliflower in it), I came up with this sammy:
Frozen breaded eggplant patties are available at many grocery stores so you can buy them ready made and sprinkle them with the Pakistani-inspired spice mix below, but I fried mine fresh, riffing off Emeril Lagasse’s recipe on FoodNetwork.com.
For the bread crumbs, I put several Balthazar brioche rolls through a food processor, and I went Pakistani with Emeril’s spice mix; I kept the paprika, garlic powder and cayenne, but subbed fresh lime zest, pink rock salt, pink and black peppercorns, cardamom seeds and coriander powder for the onion powder, dried oregano and dried thyme.
I also used extra virgin olive oil instead of vegetable oil.
Otherwise, I followed Emeril’s instructions. The trick to non-greasy fried eggplant that’s crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside (which I learned from a 2011 Eggplant Fries recipe from Bon Appétit)? Soak the eggplant slices in ice water for at least 2 hours.
I winged the chutney as soon as I saw the beautiful pluots — a hybrid of plums and apricots — at Whole Foods.
They seemed like they would go perfectly with tamarind pulp …
(Here’s what the sticky tamarind seed pod looks like when you crack open the woody shell and remove the rooty fibers:)
… along with brown sugar, chopped pluots and fresh mint.
After heating the paratha in the microwave, I put about 3-4 fried eggplant slices on half of the paratha and spooned three scoops of chutney on top.
My mostly vegetarian friend Robert was game to be Sandwich Surprised this week.
“Mmmm,” said Robert. “This is delicious! I had never heard of pluots before, and I love the pluot chutney — it has a nice kick to it. With the tamarind and the fruit, the mint isn’t overly minty, it’s just a sweet flavor. It’s really good even by itself. I like the combination of everything with the eggplant, especially with the bread.”
**You can read about part of my recent food tour adventures with Joe and my boyfriend Brant here. I’m glad I get the full credit for topping ice cream with a crunchy, spicy Thai snack called kering tempe, which was originally my sister Diana‘s idea. (Teehee.)
2.5 T paprika (I used a Hungarian brand, Pride of Szeged)
1.5 T pink Himalayan salt
2 T garlic powder
1 T pink peppercorns
1/2 t green cardamom seeds
1 T cayenne pepper
1 T lime zest
1 T coriander powder
Grind in coffee grinder until powdered.
1/2 bunch fresh mint, stems removed, chopped finely
2 T dark brown sugar
2 tamarind pods
4 pluots, skinned and chopped
2 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
Remove the shells and fibrous roots from the tamarind. Soak in boiling water for 1 hour, then mush with a fork to remove the seeds (they’re about 1/2 inch in size) and pulp the meat. Mix the pulp with the brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine the pluots, chopped mint and tamarind mixture until each cube of fruit has mint and tamarind on it.