This is one of my favorite recipes, and it's good even if you don't make it spicy. It's originally from the book "The Food of India: A Journey for Food Lovers." I think the book is a good introduction for Indian food beginners, it was my first Indian cookbook, and I have had good luck with most of the recipes. This one is super and makes the whole book worth while.
yield: six servings
14 ounces ripe diced tomatoes (peeled and seeded if fresh)
1" of ginger, peeled and minced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
Fry to brown in oil then reserve:
1 3/4 # Japanese or Indian eggplants, cut into 2" section
1 t fennel seeds
1/2 t kalonji (nigella) seeds
1 T ground coriander
1/4 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne
In a deep frying pan, heat a light film of oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the fennel and kalonji, allowing them to pop for a few seconds. Add the tomato mixture and the remaining spices. Be careful, it will spatter! Cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently then add the eggplant. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes, until the eggplant is fully cooked. Season with salt as desired. At this point, it is ready to serve, or can be held in the refrigerator for two days. It does get better with time!