Baingan is also called Eggplant in the US, Brinjal in India and aubergine in the UK. This vegetable belongs to the nightshade family of vegetables and is popular in many cuisines around the world. Even in India alone there are many varieties of dish prepared in various regions. For instance baingan ka chokha (which is served with a crispy flatbread called litti) in the eastern state of Bihar.
Baingan ka bhartha has a distinct smoky flavor which is derived from roasting the whole eggplant on direct fire or open flame until it is cooked. It is mashed completely which is called ‘bhartha’. The smoky flavor is utterly crucial for the dish.
In North India it is also cooked on ‘Sigdi’, an open stove where coal is used as fuel which imparts the smoky flavor. ‘Dhabhas’ or small eateries alongside the highways or on the outskirts of the city often serve this dish with tandoori roti which makes for a delicious combination.
This dish can be made with any oil of your choice but try making it with ghee which takes the flavor to another level. The richness of the ghee combined with the smokiness of the eggplant is insanely delicious. Serve the dish with roti of your choice for weeknight dinner.
- 1 whole big eggplant
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp ginger, grated
- 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1-2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 3 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin-coriander powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- Salt to taste
- ½ tsp sugar, optional
- ½ -1 tsp amchur or dry mango powder, optional
Wash eggplant and wipe dry. Place it on medium open flame. Keep rotating the eggplant with tongs so that it cooks evenly on all sides. This will take about 10-15 minutes and the eggplant will be soft to the touch. Remove from open flame and place in a bowl and keep it covered for 10 minutes as it will continue cooking.
Heat ghee in a pan add cumin and mustard seeds. When it sputters add turmeric, red chili powder, cumin-coriander powder and stir well.
Add the chopped onion, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Add salt and continue cooking for 5-8 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until everything is completely mushy about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, open the lid covering the eggplant, cut the top off. Start peeling the skin off. Be careful as it can be hot. Discard the skin and mash the eggplant well.
Add the eggplant to the onion tomato mixture and cook again for 5 minutes until everything is well incorporated. Adjust seasoning and add chopped cilantro.
If the eggplant is small you may use 2 medium eggplants.
Amchur or dry mango powder is optional as sometimes the tomatoes lend a tang but if the tomatoes are sweet it might not. So add accordingly.
The famous proverb "you are what you eat” as quoted by the French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is very true. Food nourishes you from the inside out. Good health is of utmost importance to me. Vegetarianism and Veganism are gaining immense popularity these days. Natural, organic, healthy and homemade is my mantra.
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