Chukku’s Yogurt Salad
I’d forgotten all about Chukku’s yogurt until she came to visit last year. Delicious! “This must be in my cookbook! Can I?” I asked. “Of course!” she said. We’ve been sharing since childhood.
1 baby eggplant, slivered and cut into 1-inch “confetti” strips
½ teaspoon salt (to “sweat” the eggplant)
3 cups Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon wild honey
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
Tadka (fried topping):
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 whole dried red chilies
1 shallot, minced
10 fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, thinly slivered
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cup cucumber, slivered and cut into confetti strips
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Make ahead: The yogurt base will keep overnight in the fridge. Fry the eggplant confetti and the tadka (fried topping), refrigerate separately, and reheat when ready to serve.
1. Arrange eggplant confetti in a single layer on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 20 minutes. Salt helps to “sweat” the eggplant of excess moisture. Pat dry the eggplant with paper towels.
2. Whisk yogurt, salt, cumin, and wild honey in a glass bowl. Check seasoning and set aside the seasoned yogurt.
3. In a nonstick skillet, heat the unrefined coconut oil and add pat-dried eggplant confetti. Brown eggplant for about 3 minutes, stirring over medium heat. Set aside.
4. Tadka: In a skillet, heat the olive oil. When shimmering, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and whole dried red chilies. Lower heat and add minced shallot, curry leaves, ginger, and black peppercorns. Stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
5. Top seasoned yogurt with the tadka, browned eggplant, and cucumber confetti (the cucumber will get enough salt from the seasoned yogurt and browned eggplant).
Crowning flavor: Sprinkle the yogurt with cayenne and paprika to create a speckled red accent against the white of the yogurt and the brown of the eggplant. Shower with chopped cilantro and serve.
Yogurt is a popular probiotic food. The most current science has determined that the billions of bacteria in a serving are not enough to change the actual makeup of our microbiota (our gut has tens of trillions), but it changes the way they act. Yogurt improves our bacteria’s ability to digest complex carbohydrates. It will also give the immune system a boost, and the calcium and vitamin D in yogurt helps prevent bone loss.