The Hindi name of this dish translates to “Potatoes and Eggplants in pickling spices”. A quintet of spices rules the flavor profile in this delightfully spicy dish which is served as a side dish with fresh rotis or naan. If you prefer to skip the gluten, this dish is as good with rice or quinoa.

The combination of spices is called Panch Phoron, and is widely used in Bengali cooking, which is another form of regional Indian cooking. The spices are kept whole and not powdered, and include onion seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds and cumin seeds. All these spices have health benefits on their own and together you can think of them as a bit of a super spice combo. Make extra amounts when you make this dish, because the flavors marry and intensify the next day. If you don’t care for eggplant or potatoes, you can make this recipe with just one vegetable.

An equally tasty dish is made with chicken.

Serves 4 as a side dish

1/2 tsp onion seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4-1/2 tsp asafetida
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 roma tomato, finely diced, about 1/2 cup
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 italian eggplant, cut into long pieces
3 small white potatoes, peeled and cut into long pieces

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add asafetida, turmeric powder and the whole spices. When mustard seeds are popping and the oil has been infused with the flavor of the spices, add the tomatoes to it. Cook until the oil separates from the tomatoes. Add in the red chili powder and the vegetables. Toss the vegetables in the spices so they are all well coated and cook for about 2-3 minutes. 

Add about 1/2 cup of water and cover. Let simmer until the potatoes are tender and the eggplant is cooked through. 

Serve hot or warm or at room temperature with rotis or rice.