Khasa Baigan Bhaji

Eggplant-Cheese Fritters

1 large or 2 smaller eggplants (about 2 pound total) sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup +3 tablespoons pancake mix
2 tablespoons cornmeal
cayenne or paprika to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric or curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander, basil or parsley
3 tablespoons water
6 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
1-1/4 cup fresh or dry breadcrumbs
vegetable oil or ghee for frying
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Sprinkle eggplant slices liberally with salt and set aside 1/2 hr. for excess water to drain off.

Combine flours/pancake mix, cornmeal, spices, herbs and salt with the water in a bowl and whisk till smooth and the consistency of thick cream, adding water if needed. Rinse salt off eggplant and pat dry with paper towels. Pair up slices about the same size. Trim cheese slices a tad smaller than eggplant rounds. Place 2 slices of cheese, (a biscuit or cookie cutter is handy) between each pair of eggplant slices. Dip each sandwich in batter lightly shake off excess, dip in breadcrumbs and set aside (waxed paper is helpful). Make all the sandwiches before beginning to fry.

Heat 1/2-inch oil or ghee in a large skillet till hot but not smoking. If desired, place garlic slices in the oil till it is very fragrant, then remove them. Fry fritters 10-15 minutes on each side till eggplant is fork-tender. Drain and serve.

NOTE: The only slightly tricky thing about this, too hot dish is the heat and the cheese leaks, but it has to be fairly hot to keep the fritters from coming out oily. Just watch for beginnings of leakage.



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