Eggplant with Minty Tomato Sauce and Yogurt

1 1/4 pounds eggplant (the large variety)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
For the tomato sauce
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
8 plum tomatoes from a can, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup of the can liquid
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
freshly ground black pepper
You also need
1/2 cup plain yogurt
peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
extra mint sprigs or leaves for garnishing

Trim the very ends of the eggplant and cut it crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Put the slices in a single layer in a large platter or lasagna-type dish. Sprinkle the salt over both sides, rubbing it in well. Set aside for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion pieces begin to brown at the edges. Put in the garlic. Stir for a few seconds. Now put in the tomatoes and their liquid as well as all the remaining ingredients for the tomato sauce. Stir to mix. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Set aside in a warm place.

Make the yogurt sauce. Put the yogurt in a small bowl and beat lightly with a fork.

Just before you sit down to eat, put oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches for deep-frying in a wok or deep-fryer and set over medium heat. Take the eggplant slices from the platter and dry them off well with paper towels.

When the oil is hot, drop in as many slices as the utensil will hold easily and fry, turning now and then, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until both sides are a medium brown color. Drain well on paper towels. Do a second batch, if needed.

To serve, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on a large platter. Top each slice with a dollop of the tomato sauce and then with a tablespoon of the yogurt. Garnish with the mint sprigs or leaves. Serve immediately.

Serves 3 to 4



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