Eggplant can be a tricky vegetable to make crispy, since it holds a deceptive amount of water. But by salting it to extract the moisture and then seasoning and frying it with a light coat of semolina, it creates the basis for a crunchy snack. Served along with a cool, fresh herb-infused yogurt sauce, this makes a welcome appetizer or snack for any table.
- Trim and discard the top of the eggplants. Cut the eggplants into 1-mm thick slices and place them in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons of the salt, toss to coat, and leave covered at room temperature for one hour. After an hour, discard the liquid from the eggplant slices with clean kitchen paper towels.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, chile powder, black pepper, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Fold the eggplant slices into the mixture to coat evenly.
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet on medium-high. Once the oil is hot, put the semolina in a separate bowl or container. With a fork or a pair of tongs, take one slice of eggplant from the egg batter, shake it to remove any excess liquid and then dip it into the semolina, coating both sides evenly and again shaking to remove any excess. Fry the eggplant slice in the hot oil for about 1 to 1½ minutes, until it is golden brown on each side, and place on a tray lined with absorbent paper towels. Prepare the remaining eggplant slices similarly and serve them with the herbed yogurt dip.
- Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small skillet on medium-high heat for about 30 to 45 seconds until the seeds start to brown and just begin to release their aroma. Immediately transfer the seeds to a blender with the remaining ingredients and pulse on high speed until smooth and combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with the fried eggplant.
Nik Sharma is an award-winning freelance food writer and photographer. He also writes a recipe-based food column for the San Francisco Chronicle called A Brown Kitchen and is also the author of the blog A Brown Table. His first cookbook, Season (Chronicle Books), was published in October 2018. He lives in Oakland, California.