Masala Eggplant in Jersey City

Conjuring up this dish brings back fond memories of living in a highrise apartment in Jersey City, right along the Hudson River. The whiff of the nigella seeds toasting in oil, reminds me of floating blocks of ice gliding across the river in front of me as I peered out of the large windows framing the Manhattan skyline.

Masala Eggplant Close up

Usually in the evening, with my pots simmering away in my awesome little kitchen – I’d sit near the window and gaze across the river into the city, waiting patiently for my husband to come home. Now, now, don’t get carried away with your imagination, it was not like an Indian movie…and I was surely not wearing a sari. Well not on that day anyway 😉

While I waited, I watched intently at people from various walks of life on the boardwalk below. Mostly, I watched them walk their dogs, a lot of dogs I might add, or I’d see little kids running into the open arms of their parents, or young professionals dashing this way and that, or an old couple walking in silence – comfortable with each others presence that only comes with a life time of being together.

Feels,like yesterday

Yet so far away

Smell of the mustard oil

and Nigella seeds

… so far away

masala eggplant with candle

A gastronomical experience is by far the best feeling engaging all five senses. A bite of something takes you racing back in time where you experienced that tasty morsel. Hopefully, the memories were good… As were my memories of eating Masala Eggplant in Jersey City…

Lotsa Masala Eggplant


9 – 10 Indian eggplants

3 tablespoon mustard oil

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you like)

¼ teaspooon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

salt to taste

½ teaspoon nigella seeds (also called kalonji)

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Slit the eggplants lengthwise into quarters keeping them intact, not cutting all the way through.


In a small bowl, mix one tablespoon of oil with the paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin, lemon juice and salt to make a paste.

Smear the insides of the eggplant with the paste. It’s okay if it coats the outside of the eggplant too.

Raw Masala Eggplant Close up

Heat the rest of the oil in a pan and toss in the nigella seeds.

Once the seeds start sizzling and popping, throw in the eggplants.

Masala Eggplant on a knife

Cover with a lid and let the eggplants cook, turning them a few times.

Frying Masala Eggplant

You know they are ready if they are slightly soft but not mushy.

Spoon them into a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Serve warm with Moongh daar and Rotis, smeared in ghee, of course.



  • You may use italian egg plants if  you wish, just cut them into really thick circles.  They may cook quicker too.
  • Try not to let the nigella seeds burn, if they do it’s wise to throw it out and restart with the oil and seeds.
  • The eggplant tastes great cold the next day with yogurt and lots of chopped cilantro.


12 thoughts on “Masala Eggplant in Jersey City

  1. yum 🙂 Always enjoy eggplants and it’s fun to find new ways to prep. And yes, food bringing back memories is the best thing. Food can be powerful in so many ways.


  2. I tried this for dinner tonight and it was so good. It have nerver cook with mustard oil before so I loved the flavor of it. I am definitely making this again.


    • Wow Maaria! You are quick. Before I could reply your first message you already mde the masala eggplant. I’m so happy it turned out good for you! Isn’t mustard oil great? Once you experience the taste, there’s no turning back. Thanks for giving it a shot:)


  3. What a beautiful dish. The pictures are absolutely exquisite! And I love your description of the apartment in Jersey City.
    I am not familiar with nigella seeds. Is it often used in Indian cuisine?


    • Thanks so much! It’s been fun taking pictures for FTLOG. Nigella seeds (kalonji) is not used as often in curries, but they do appear every now and then in recipes. The seeds are commonly used speckled into breads like naan or pooris (deep fried flat discs of dough). Nigella seeds are sometimes used to flavor pickles as it imparts a strong oniony taste when ground up. Hope this helps 🙂
      By the way I always want to hop onto a plane and go somewhere after reading your blog!


      • Oh I just remembered, my grandfather used to mixe ground up nigella seeds in some honey when we had a cough as young children. It worked then and still does the trick with my kids.


      • Ah, I have heard of kalonji seeds – in fact I use them in a jackfruit curry I make from time to time. I had no idea that was what nigella seeds were.
        Thanks! Your comment makes me happy. 🙂


      • You’re very welcome and I’m glad I was able to make you smile. And Jackfruit curry? I haven’t made that before and it does sound super tasty, as I adore jackfruit. Would love to get the recipe from you sometime 😉


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