Inspired by this post on making paneer, I decided to make the curried eggplant with paneer pictured halfway down the page. I found a decent recipe online for Ringan no Ohloh, and as I contemplated making it I realised that oven roasting the eggplants would also give me the basics for salata de vinete.
plita, a flat sheet of metal (a kind of sideless pan) that would go over an open flame. This was a smelly and hot process, and somehow my memories of the subsequent removal of the charred skin are also not good. So I've never tried to make this myself, figuring that, as much as I love it, I lacked the equipment (I also don't have a barbecue), and it would be too much work.
But, bad little Romanian that I am, I was willing to try the Indian dish. So I decided to put four eggplants in the oven -- lightly covered with oil, and roasted for a good hour at 200 C. After they cooled, I removed the skin (surprisingly easy!), and mushed up the insides. I used half the mush for the Ringan no Ohloh, which was incredibly good, and saved the rest to make salata de vinete the next day.
Well, it turns out the rest was pretty easy too. I checked Sanda Marin, and she pointed out one thing I'd done wrong: I should have squeezed the eggplant pulp before mashing it to get all the liquid out. And I should have been incredibly careful about getting every last bit of skin off.
I added a couple of chopped onions, lots and lots of salt and pepper, and enough vegetable oil to make it smooth. That was it! It tasted a little disappointing right away, but one more night in the fridge has let the flavours come together, and today the smokiness of the eggplant and the sharpness of the onions are perfect.
Some people don't use onions (or serve them on the side). Some people use garlic instead of onions. Some add a little yoghurt or sour cream to make the salad smoother. For me, though, it has to be raw onions or nothing else. This tastes especially delicious accompanied by a flavourful tomato (if you can find one!).