Peel the eggplants first, discard the stem and ends, and then slice evenly into 1/2 rounds. (Peeling is optional, but I always do it unless I'm using very small, thin-skinned eggplants.)
In a large bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt in a cup of warm water. When the salt is fully dissolved, add 4 cups of cold water. Put the sliced eggplant into the salt water. Cover the eggplant slices down with a plate that fits inside the rim of the bowl, and then weight the plate so that the eggplant slices fall below the water line. Allow eggplant to soak for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F [190°C].Line a heavy baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
After the eggplant slices have soaked for 30 minutes, drain them and pat dry with paper towels. Lay prepared eggplant slices on a baking sheet in a single layer with at least 1/2 inch between slices. Lightly brush or spray eggplant slices on both sides with remaining olive oil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the underside is lightly browned.Remove from oven and flip eggplant slices over. Return to oven and bake until second side is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Prepare the sauce:
In a small blender or food processor cup, combine ginger, garlic, and reserve canned tomato liquid. Blend until almost smooth.
In a large, heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high until a droplet of water sizzles in it. When hot, put the fennel and cumin seeds in the skillet and cook until they turn a few shades darker. This will only take a few seconds, so have the other ingredients ready. Pour in tomatoes, and add remaining spices. Stir and cook about 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
Preheat oven to 325°F [165°C].
Layer eggplant and sauce in a casserole dish, beginning with eggplant slices and ending with sauce. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes.
Serve warm or cold.
Serving SuggestionsIndian Eggplant can be served immediately, but we often put it in the fridge and serve it cold. It's just wonderful with a simple dal, raita and some naan. We also love to serve it warm for breakfast, topped with a poached egg.Ingredient NoteFor an extra flavor boost, I like to use petite-cut canned tomatoes with roasted onions and garlic.
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