How many of you all like Eggplant/ Aubergine or Brinjal - as it is popularly known in India? I am sure there are many of you who have a love-hate relationship with this vegetable (errrr...I think its a fruit technically.....but that is an another topic for discussion). Same is the case with my husband. On days when I make some simple sabji using baby eggplants and potato, he will compensate it by having lots of pickle or papad or salad on the side with roti......hahahaha. But fortunately Baingan Bharta (oh by the way...baingan means eggplant in Hindi) or roasted eggplant stir fry is an exception. In fact he even enjoys Baba ghanoush a lot (its a Mediterranean dip made with broiled/roasted eggplant and tahini) which is some what similar to Baingan Bharta. I think its the smoky flavor of the roasted eggplant that gives both these dishes a unique flavor. So even in baingan bharta the eggplant is roasted until its tender and charred to perfection. The smoky flavor is what makes Baingan Bharta so irresistibly yummy. I love eggplants especially Baingan Bharta, its my absolute favorite.
Baingan bharta originated in the state of Punjab, India. However it is very popular all across India and there are many different versions of it. In this post I will be sharing my version which happens to be my mothers version and that involves the use of green onions or spring onions. I am sure this version is also very common but this is how we make it at home most of the time. If you don't have green onions or simply want to make it without green onions, skip it and simply follow the rest of the recipe.
After living in US for over 4 years now, I have noticed that the type of eggplant that you buy makes a lot of difference. I have tried the large American eggplants previously for this recipe but trust me it doesn't work. The large eggplants in my opinion are less flavorful, thick skinned and take a lot of time to cook. Moreover it cooks very unevenly and the skin doesn't come of easily after roasting. I usually look for smaller eggplants, here they are labeled as Italian eggplants and these are the best kinds for preparing Baingan Bharta. They are far more tastier than the larger eggplants, thin skinned and takes a lot less time to cook. So next time whenever you are planning to make this dish lookout for eggplants that are smaller in size, has smooth shiny skin and the stem is nice green in color and not brown. On that note, lets checkout the recipe.
Serves 2 people
2 medium sized eggplants
1 medium sized onion - chopped
1 small to medium sized tomato -chopped
2 - 3 stalks of spring onion or green onions - chopped (greens and whites separated)
1 tsp of garlic grated/paste
1 tsp of ginger grated/paste
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp of red chili powder/kashmiri chili powder
1 tsp of coriander powder
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1/4 tsp of garam masala (optional)
1 - 2 tbsp of oil
Salt to taste
Cilantro/Coriander leaves for garnishing
Feel free to adjust the spice level as per your liking.
1) Wash and wipe the eggplants. Apply little oil all over the eggplant and place it on the gas stove for roasting. You can do this by directly placing it on the open flame or placing it on a wire rack like the one I have in the pic. Keep turning the eggplant after every 1 to 2 mins. It will not take more than 15 mins to roast the eggplants completely. Check if they are cooked completely by inserting a knife. If the knife goes in very easily then they are done. Remove from the wire rack and place them in a bowl and close it with a lid. I feel that this additional step helps in retaining the smoky flavor.
Note: You can also bake or broil the eggplants in the oven. I have tried baking, it doesn't give the same smoky flavor. But you can give broiling a try.
2) Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, start peeling of the skin and cut of the stem. All that you will be left with will be the soft inner flesh. Roughly chop with a knife or simply use a fork to mash them (see pic) and keep it aside.
3) Heat oil in a non stick pan, once hot add cumin seeds and let them splutter. Add chopped onions and white part of green onions. Cook the onions on a medium flame till they are translucent and cooked through. Then add the grated ginger and garlic and sauté for few seconds till the raw smell goes away. Add the chopped tomatoes sauté for few mins followed by adding all the spices which is turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder and salt to taste. Cook this masala until the masalas are fragrant and tomatoes are mashed.
4) Now add the mashed eggplant to the masala and mix nicely. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low - medium flame for around 5- 8 mins. Open the lid and add the final ingredient that is the chopped greens of the green onions. Mix and let it cook for another 2 - 3 mins. Check and adjust salt and finish of with very little garam masala powder (optional) and switch off the flame. And finally garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves.
Serve hot with phulkas or rotis/chapatis.
So until next time.....Happy Cooking 😊