Eggplant and Potato Gratin
In this side dish inspired by Indian flavors, slices of eggplant and potato sit over a bed of crushed tomatoes seasoned with garlic, cumin and nigella seeds. It’s a wonderful accompaniment to seafood, particularly roasted fish. To cut the cooking time, slice the vegetables even thinner, using a mandolin or food processor. Nigella seeds are sometimes erroneously labeled as black cumin, but they look and taste quite different. They have a triangular shape and a distinct black coat, and the flavor will remind some of alliums. There is no direct substitute, but, for the same texture — if not the same taste — you could use sesame seeds.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2Japanese eggplants (12 ounces total)
- 1russet potato (about 14 ounces)
- 2tablespoons melted ghee or oil, plus more for greasing the baking dish
- 1teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1teaspoon nigella seeds
- 1teaspoon red-pepper flakes, such as Aleppo
- ½teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Kosher salt
- 1(14-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 4garlic cloves, peeled and grated
- 2tablespoons bread crumbs
- 2tablespoons grated Parmesan
Step 1Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the eggplants 1/4-inch thick, discarding the tops. Peel the potatoes or leave the skins on, and slice the potatoes 1/4-inch thick. Place the eggplant and potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with the ghee. Toss with cumin, nigella, red-pepper flakes, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt.
Step 2Lightly grease a 9-by-9-inch baking dish or similarly sized gratin dish with ghee, and place the gratin dish on a baking sheet.
Step 3Add the tomatoes and garlic to the baking dish, season with salt and toss to combine. Arrange the eggplant and potato slices on top, alternating between the two vegetables.
Step 4In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs and Parmesan. Sprinkle the mixture over the sliced vegetables.
Step 5Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the top turns golden brown. Let the dish cool for 5 minutes before serving.