Okay….So, I know this is not the prettiest dish to take pics with, but seriously try and put the not so prettiness aside, and try this dish. You will never look back, or I didn’t, trust me.
I had brinjal bake years ago. Our neighbour (a sweet little lady) from the apartment block where we were staying popped over to visit one night with a brinjal bake. (Super kind, and super sweet don’t you think?) Anyway, I had never had a brinjal bake before in my life and I absolutely fell in love with the dish immediately (because I am a veggie freak!). As much as I loved the dish, I never plucked up the courage to ask this lady what the recipe was (those were my very shy days). Eighteen months later we left the apartment and life moved on. Years later, once my parents passed, we moved into the house where my brother and I grew up, and I created the most magnificent herb garden with a few vegetables. Well, the brinjals excelled and managed to escape being eaten by bugs. We ended up with so many brinjals, and I remembered the brinjal bake from the little lady…. So the brinjal bake, (not that I really knew what I was doing), was done over and over again, but my version, as I could remember. It was totally divine but, eventually apart from us all practically looking like brinjal bake, the hubby said, please no more. So, I stopped making brinjal bake sadly 😦 , but… I must admit I did pretty much over kill the dish… Anyway the definite need for brinjal bake occurred yet again recently, and so here it is….I am not saying it is the real deal that I had, the very first time, but this is ‘my real deal’ and to me, it tastes exactly as it did that very first time.
This dish could be considered a little time consuming, but really the time consuming part comes in with the actual frying of the individual brinjal slices. I am not really one for frying, but I have tried baking the brinjal slices, but somehow have not mastered the art of baking brinjal slices yet…and somehow find that the dish just does not come together nicely, so forget the fat content, and the calories and whatever and just give it a gentle fry…our bodies need a bit of fat anyway…It’s not that bad really, it gets drained off anyway with paper towel…, and it is not like the brinjal slices are literally soaking and swimming in oil when they are frying…
Another aspect is, is soaking the brinjals necessary or not? Some say yes, and some say no. Well, I just do. I usually soak the sliced brinjals in salted water, doing it this way supposedly draws the bitterness out from the brinjal, and also I believe, helps the brinjals not to absorb too much oil if frying.
The layering part is awesome, then it’s a matter of throwing it in the oven and then waiting for this baby to cook. I am ridiculous, it literally comes from the oven and I am there with my spoon….blowing like an idiot for it to cool down… I know… I know, there just is no hope !
This is such a great dish. It is wonderful, simply on its own or as a vegetable side dish.
Preparation time: 30 minutes (soak time)
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes (including frying time and oven baking time)
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Serves 4 -6
approximately 560 gram sliced brinjal
flour for coating
a little vegetable oil for frying
410 gram tin of onion and tomato mix
200 – 220 gram grated matured cheddar cheese (use more cheese if you want)
a handful of fresh basil, and/or dried sweet basil
Soak the sliced brinjals in salted water for 30 minutes.
Drain on paper towels.
Coat the brinjal slices thoroughly with flour.
Fry in a little oil. Keep topping up the oil when necessary. This will be done in batches, depending on the size of your frying pan.
Once fried on both sides, place on fresh paper towels to drain any excess oil. Try and drain off as much oil as possible.
Then, in an oven proof dish (approximately 21 x 21 centimeters /8.25 x 8.25 inches in size), lay some brinjal slices to cover the bottom of the dish.
Next, cover the layer of brinjal with a layer of the onion and tomato mix.
Following, cut up some fresh sweet basil and place on top of the tomato mix. (If you don’t have fresh, the dried sweet basil, will be fine, sometimes I use both!)
Continue these three layers.
Top with loads of grated matured cheddar cheese, the more the merrier.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese is turning golden brown. If it is not bubbling by now, turn the oven on grill, and watch carefully as it will burn quickly. Let the cheese bubble. Remove from the oven.