Neelam Batra's American friends so love her eggplant dish, flavored with turmeric, fenugreek seeds and chiles, that now she can't imagine preparing it the classic Indian way, seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
One 15-ounce package frozen peas, thawed (2 1/2 cups)
2 cups chopped cilantro
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Preheat the oven to 500°. Put the eggplants on 2 rimmed baking sheets and pierce them all over with the tip of a small knife. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the skin is blackened and the flesh is very soft. Let cool slightly. Peel off the skin and scrape the flesh into a large bowl. Mash the eggplant coarsely.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the cumin seeds and cook over high heat until they sizzle, about 10 seconds. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the jalapeños, garlic, ginger and red chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and boil until all the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the fenugreek, paprika and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and cook over low heat for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir in the chopped cilantro and the yogurt and season with salt. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl, sprinkle with the garam masala; serve hot.