I keep complaining how hard it is to get really good Indian food in Berlin. Sometimes I need to eat a plate of Indian food that is vibrant with the complex flavours of fresh, whole spices. That is hard to find here so I have to cook it myself. I like this dish because, although it is rice based, it is light and not at all stodgy. Use the best basmati rice that you can afford and rinse it well before use then be very careful to cook it lightly as it can turn to mush easily. Both eggplant and mushroom have good, strong texture and hold their flavour well. The toasted almonds add extra flavour and texture. It is really important to use fresh, whole spices, powder is just not the same in this dish.
1 large onion thinly sliced
Half an eggplant cut int thin half moons
200g mushrooms cut into thick slices
2 medium tomatoes chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, a whole green chili and a thumbnail sized piece of fresh ginger ground to a pulp
250g basmati rice rinsed
1 tin of chickpeas
1 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fennel seeds and black mustard seeds
1 piece of cinnamon stick
2 black cardamom pods
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons of toasted almond flakes or slivers
A large handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the onions gently in half of the oil until they are dark brown but not burnt. In a separate pan fry the eggplant and mushrooms in the rest of the oil. Toast all of the whole spices in a small dry pan but be careful not to burn them. Then combine them together with the chili, garlic, ginger paste, rice, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, chickpeas and tomatoes in a larger pan. Add just enough water to barely cover the rice and season. Bring slowly to the boil and cover tightly with some foil before putting on the lid. Turn to a very low simmer until the rice is about two thirds cooked. Do not stir during this time.This will take about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave with the lid on tight for a further 5 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and liberally garnish with almonds and coriander.