The Start of Something Good: Tomato Begun

Today’s dish, Tomato Begun, is the Bangladeshi version of a “just home from work, nothing cooked, feeling hungry, and the eggplant needs to be dealt with now” dinner.  It’s easy, healthy, clean, fast and tasty. In short, the perfect meal for Friday night.


Looking at the necessary spices, a few stood out from the ordinary. Fennel, for one. I use whole fennel seeds to make my own breakfast sausage (have you ever done that? You should. It’s too easy to justify buying it already made), but I never thought it was a flavor that complemented the traditional southeast Asian spices. I was wrong.

The second oddity in this dish were the aforementioned nigella seeds.  Otherwise known as black cumin, that name is a misnomer since it is not at all related to cumin and very much sings its own song.  Native to southeast Asia, is one of the five key spices in the palate of flavors in the Bengal region of India (explaining its popularity in neighboring Bangladesh).


Nigella seeds (L) and regular cumin (R)

Odd flavors aside, when brought together, they make up a bouquet of awesomeness.  I made a few tweaks to brighten the flavors.



Here’s the drill:

Tomato Begun


Adapted from Virtual Bangladesh

Serves 2-3? Hard to say…


1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2” cubes

2 large tomatoes, diced

½ red onion, diced

2 TB coconut oil

½ tsp whole fennel seeds

½ tsp nigella seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/3 cup stock, your choice

Cilantro to garnish

1 lime, juiced

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium to high heat in a large sauté pan.

2.  Add in the cumin, nigella and fennel seeds, stir fry until the seeds starts to splutter.

3.   Add in the onion, eggplant, garlic and tomato and stir fry 8-10 minutes until the eggplant starts to soften.  Add a bit of salt to help this along.

4.  Add in the rest of spices and stiry fry an additional 3 minutes.  Add the stock and let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and the eggplant is soft and cooked.

5.  Mix in the cilantro just before serving. Serve atop rice, per usual.



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  1. This reminds me of a popular tradition aubergine and tomato dish in Greece which is usually served with feta cheese. It’s delicious so I’m sure I’d like this too. Love the idea of pairing aubergine with fennel and lime!

    • I have had the combo in Turkey, with fresh lemon and parsley, more like in a salad. As for the lime- I grew up in Florida with a lime tree in the backyard- I put it on everything!

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