Wengi Bhat

An unusual dish from India, Wengi Bhat (wayn-gee bhath) may be served with kebabs or with yogurt and a salad.6 small aubergines

2 dried red chillis

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

4 cloves

6 whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon white poppy seeds

3 tablespoons peanuts

4 to

6 tablespoons water

3 oz. plus

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoons salt

2 medium-sized onions, sliced

12 oz. long-grain rice, washed, soaked in cold water for

30 minutes and drained

4 tablespoons freshly grated coconut or

2 tablespoons desic cated coconut moistened with 2 tablespoons water

Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh. Reserve the skins. Put the pulp in a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside. In the jar of an electric blender, blend the chillis, garlic, mustard seeds, turmeric, Wengi Bhat and Wengyachen Bharit are tvjo spicy vegetable curry dishes. cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, poppy seeds, peanuts and 2 tablespoons of the water, adding more water if necessary until the mixture forms a smooth puree.

With a spatula, scrape the puree into a small mixing bowl.

In a large frying-pan, melt 1 ounce of the butter over mod-crate heat. When the foam subsides, add the spice puree and fry, stirring con stantly, for 3 minutes. Add the aubergine pulp and half the salt and fry, stirring frequently, for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and spoon the mixture into the reserved aubergine skins. Set aside.

Wash and dry the frying-pan. Place the pan over moderate heat and add 1 ounce of the remaining butter. When the foam subsides, add the onions and fry, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Add the stuffed aubergines , reduce the heat to low and fry for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to cool 300 °F (Gas Mark 2, 150°C).

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. When the foam subsides, add the rice and remaining salt and, stirring constantly, fry for 3 minutes. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the rice by J-inch. Increase the heat to high. When the rice boils vigorously, cover the pan, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and all the water has been absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the coconut.

Arrange one-third of the rice on the bottom of a large baking dish and cover with 6 aubergine halves, cut sides uppermost.

Continue making layers in this way until all the ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of rice. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place it in the oven. Bake the rice and aubergines for 25 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and serve immediately, straight from the dish.

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