Eggplant and split red lentils (masoor dal) make a delicious combination. We had this for dinner tonight, using some eggplant that I had conveniently roasted earlier in the week and set aside for just such a use. We were too hungry and greedy to take pictures of the final dish before we ate it, and it wasn't the most photogenic dinner of all time, in any case, but believe me when I tell you that it was beautiful to us.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut eggplant into cubes of about 1" or a little smaller. Toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast, turning occasionally, until golden brown and collapsing, as in the picture. This may take something like 45 minutes, though I confess I didn't keep track. Remove from oven and set aside, or even refrigerate for a few days.
2. Heat a splash of oil in a pan with a teaspoon each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and whole coriander seeds until the seeds begin to crackle. Add one small onion, minced, and cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the onion has softened.
3. Add half a teaspoon of ground cumin and a quarter teaspoon apiece of tumeric and cayenne (adjust to your tastes). Cook just a moment, then add 3/4 cup of red lentils, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and 3 cups of water. Let the water come to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
4. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to disintegrate. Keep an eye on the water level. If things begin to get too dry, add a splash of water. You want your end result to be a sort of porridge consistency, but at this stage you should err on the side of wetness.
5. When the dal is soft, add one small chopped tomato or equivalent amount of chopped canned tomatoes. If the dal is too loose at this point, you can turn the heat up a bit and cook it down to your desired consistency. Taste and adjust for salt if needed. Now, put some eggplant in the bottom of a bowl, and spoon dal over top until you can't see the eggplant any more. Put a few more pieces of eggplant on top of the dal, and if you happen to have some crispy fried onions in the house, as I always do -- I really like the Laxmi brand jug o' onions, available from Kalustyan's -- sprinkle some on top. Of course you can also fry your own, but I find that I simply cannot replicate the gorgeous light crispiness of the prepared kind. CRUNCH CRUNCH.