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Baingan ka Bharta: Smoky and Spiced Eggplant Mash

 Baingan-Bharta-1.jpg - Smoky Mashed Eggplants

 

Baingan ka Bharta is one of the classic north Indian recipes. What makes this recipe so rustic and beautiful is the aroma of the fire grilled eggplants.

 

 

The recipe has been long due. It is a hot favorite at home and for anyone I have made it for. It is cooked frequently and easily at home and also served at most Indian restaurants. “Bharta” in Hindi implies to anything that is mashed. “Baingan/Baigan” is eggplants or aubergines. The recipe is very typically north Indian ; it is also pretty simple, not requiring any spices that would not find easily.

 

Baingan-Bharta-2.jpg - Roasted Eggplant Mash

 

 

This time I was fortunate enough to cook the Bharta with home-grown eggplants. The two Japanese eggplant plants are doing really well.. (knock on the wood!!) and we are having about 4 eggplants every week- just enough for the four of us. They are long, slender, pretty and above all made with love.

Did you know that Eggplant is actually a fruit and “botanically classified as a berry“?’

 

eggplant-from-the-yard-1.jpg

 

I have been busy beyond words, trying to spend as much time with the girls during the last remaining days of summer vacation. I know the frequency of posts have reduced drastically, but I will have to do what is more important to me. I know I am rushing through this post and feel not to so good to leave the blog alone for so long. I promise we will pace up once the school starts and we get settled in our new routines.

Traditionally the eggplants are grilled over charcoal or direct fire, and the dish is wonderfully infused with this irresistible smoky  flavor. I have a cook top that runs on gas, so I often roast the eggplants straight on the stove top. They may be cooked on the outdoor grill on fire or done in the oven. Broiling them imparts the smoky flavor to some extent.

Traditionally the Bharta is served as a side dish with any kind of Indian flatbreads, may be along with a dal and raita. But it is good as a dip or a spread too.

 

 

Baingan-Bharta-4_with-Text.jpg

 

 

Baingan Ka Bharta: Smoky and Spiced Eggplant Mash

Ingredients: (serves 2-4)

  1. 4 long eggplants (the Asian kind, Chinese or Japanese – medium sized)
  2. 2.5 tablespoon oil, divided
  3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  4. 3/4 cup diced onions (do not chop them too small – about 1/4 inch squares are good)
  5. 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  6. 3-5 hot chili peppers (remove membrane and seeds if you do not like it spicy – the peppers are vital for flavor)
  7. 3/4 cup chopped or grated fresh tomatoes – adjust amount to taste. The more tomato you use, the bharta will be a bit tart and reddish in color
  8. 1/2 tablespoon julienned fresh ginger
  9. salt to taste
  10. 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 1 teaspoon red chili powder/cayenne/paprika
  12. 1/2 cup shelled/frozen peas (optional)
  13. a lot of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped

Note: A lot of recipes use garam masala for this dish. I do not use any strong spices as I like the smoky flavor and would not have it overpowered by a spice. If you want to use extra spices, there is nothing stopping you.

Peas are sometimes used with this dish; in a little quantity. They add some color, texture and nutrition.

 

 

Method:

 

Roasting  the eggplants:

If you have a  gas cook top, smear some oil on the each eggplant and place each of them straight on the burner, at medium flame,  allowing the skin to get charred and blackened and turning them so all sides are done. The inside will be soft and mushy. by just placing the eggplant straight on the burner and keeping the flame on low setting.  Watch out when the eggplant seems to “wilt”. It means it is done.

Eggplants may be grilled on the outdoor grill too. Smear oil on the skin and cook by turning the eggplants to cook all sides until the outside is charred and inside is cooked and soft.

To cook in the oven, preheat oven to 400 F. Slice eggplant in halves,  lengthwise and sprinkle some salt on the fleshy side. Smear some oil on both sides and roast  flesh side down 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Broil it after it is roasted for about 5 – 7 minutes. This imparts the smoky flavor and also changes the color of the eggplants.

After the eggplants are cooked, place them in a ziploc bag or a bowl with a cover. Let them cool. Peel off and discard the charred skin. Mash or use the food processor to puree the roasted flesh and keep aside.

 

Cooking the Bharta:

Heat a heavy bottomed pan. Add the rest of the oil and when the oil is hot and shimmers, add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle, add the onion, garlic, hot chili peppers. Cook at high heat for a couple of minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the ginger, tomatoes, (the peas – if you are using them), turmeric, salt, chili powder and cook  for 5 – 7 minutes in medium heat until tomatoes are cooked and the oil separates. Add the eggplants and stir and toss well. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the mashed eggplants are well combined with the spice mix in the pan.

Remove from heat. Add the fresh cilantro/coriander when ready to serve.

Serve with flat breads (ParathaNaan, or any other kind) or as a dip/condiment/spread.

 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
Serves: 2 – 4 as side dish

 

 

Baingan-Bharta-3.jpg

 

 

 

Related Posts:

Roasted Eggplant with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Eggplant with Tomato, Garlic and Mint

Eggplant/Brinjal with Poblano Peppers

Harissa Stuffed Eggplants


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18 comments to Baingan ka Bharta: Smoky and Spiced Eggplant Mash

  • Mouthwatering! That is a lovely recipe. Perfect with flatbreads.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • One of my favorites. Have fun with your girls :)

  • Superb recipe and craving to have some for my lunch !

  • Deepa

    I love it with lots of tomatoes in it, tastes really good with roti. AS usual awesome clicks

  • Delicious and one of our house favourites!

  • I love Baigan Bharta… was curious how the photographs would be while I was opening the post…

    Amazing! As usual, as always… Sometimes I put boiled eggs as well:)

  • I didn’t know eggplants were classified as berries! Gorgeous dish.

  • anh

    all I can say is YUM! I love, love eggplant!

  • WHo would have though eggplants are berries! Lovely dish!

  • Apu

    Delicious! Love Bharata and have a stash of eggplants from the farm!

  • Beautiful smoky flavours from Baingan Bharta were always a hot favourite among our family members. Lovely pictures and beautiful clicks of bharta!

  • wow! can almost smell it, I usually have it with a bajra roti, so rustic and so yummy. love the recipe.

  • Nishtha

    The classic baingan bharta does NOT use turmeric or seeds (cumin or any other). Ask any Punjabi household!

    I actually have had Baingan Bharta in a Punjabi household. Not once, not twice but many times. And I am aware some house holds do, while others do not. In the same way as some households use garam masala and some do not and also in the way some families do not roast the baingan/eggplant but boil them. I have said it is a “Classic North Indian” dish, but have not mentioned anywhere that I have made it like some “Punjabi house hold”. I think the term North India encompasses states of India than just Punjab.

  • Great post, Soma! I love baingan bharta. A friend’s family person once gave a wonderful tip and have since been doing it when I make bharta. If you cook the eggplant in the oven, he said that make 6-7 slits and insert whole garlic cloves in the slits. It not only cooks with the eggplant, it gives a wonderful aroma as well. One can add as few as 2-3 garlic cloves if you are using a big eggplant, or more – depending on taste. The pictures of your dish are beautiful and very appetizing!

    Thank you! and thank you too for the great tip on roasting the garlics too! I tried it out when I made the bharta again and it was really lovely.

  • oh my god i tried this and had with roti. it was amazing. such a simple and delious dish. keep more posting like this.

  • I really like this and posted on
    mixandcook

  • [...] AND SPICED EGGPLANT MASH (aka BAINGAN KA BHARTA) (adapted from eCurry) serve [...]

  • I did not know that good old “baigan” is a berry!!
    We do not oil the surface before roasting it..i just char it on medium high flame turning often and its done..and we usually use large ones to make it.
    Yummy pics as always.

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