Do complete this yummy recipe at least once with tofu, and you will come back to it again and again. Although frying and then stirring is an unconventional method for Punjabi dishes, it tastes quite traditional. Dare you not to eat these morsels straight from the karhai!                                     "Fried-Stirred” Eggplant and Tofu or Paneer* 

Yield: 6 servings                                                                                                                        

1 medium eggplant in ½-inch cubes (about 4 cups)               

½ teaspoon salt

8 oz. extra firm tofu, drained or paneer in ½-inch cubes

¾ teaspoon chaat masala

¾ cup chickpea flour (besan) or urad flour

Oil for deep frying

¾ teaspoon cumin seed

¾ teaspoon turmeric

¾ teaspoon asafetida (hing)

1-inch piece ginger, minced

¼ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

1 large green bell pepper ½ –inch dice

1 tablespoon crumbled gurd (jaggery) or dark brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste 

    Toss the eggplant cubes with the salt and set aside for 5 minutes. Pour the oil to the depth of at least 1 inch into a heavy frying pan or wok and heat it to hot, but not smoking. In a paper or plastic bag, toss the tofu or paneer with the chaat masala. Add the eggplant cubes and the besan or urad flour. Shake until the cubes are coated. Sprinkle the cubes across the hot oil in a single layer. Do not crowd. Fry until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all cubes are fried and drained.

    Pour off all but 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Line up the remaining ingredients. Add the cumin seed to the hot oil and when sizzling, add the turmeric, hing, ginger and cayenne in that order. Give a stir and add the pepper pieces. Sauté until just softened. Add 2 tablespoons water, then the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the eggplant and the tofu or paneer cubes. Toss gently until heated through and serve. *Use only paneer cheese because it does not melt.