Make two slits in the eggplants lengthwise starting at the tip opposite the stem (not all the way through) so you have something that resembles a flower bud with four petals.
Place on a baking sheet coated with a spray of oil, spritz with another spray of oil on top of the eggplants and bake in an oven at 400 degrees F for 8 minutes until the eggplants begin to just tenderize.
Remove from the oven and cool.
Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet, then add masala ingredients one by one, roasting each for a minute over a medium flame.
Cool the masala ingredients, then powder them coarsely in a blender or a spice grinder.
Place the masala on a dish and add enough water so that the spices come together in a ball.
Divide into 8 or 9 pieces (going by the number of eggplants you have). Stuff each spice ball into an eggplant, taking care not to break off any of the petals.
Heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet.
Add the eggplants one by one (don't overlap) and cook over a medium-low flame, turning over the eggplant four times, once every five minutes, to ensure it is thoroughly cooked on all sides. The eggplant should be fork-tender (meaning a fork should sink into it without resistance).
Serve hot with rice or chapatis and some dal.
Bawarchi of the Week
Chitra Ramachandran is a very talented home cook who is enthusiastic about South Indian Vegetarian cooking styles.