Baigan Bhartha- Roasted Eggplant Dish

Baingan Bharta is a popular North Indian dish, served at every roadside Dhabas in Punjab, especially during winter months. Baingan (meaning eggplant) bharta is basically fire-roasted eggplant cooked with onion, tomatoes, and spices. 

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During summer when we are grilling outside, I usually roast a few eggplants on the grill and use it later in the week. The rest of the time I broil them in the oven. Roasting the eggplant on direct fire is what gives this dish the authentic smokey flavor that is hard to not like it. 

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Yield: 3 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized big Eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera
  • 1 tablespoon Ginger-Garlic paste
  • 2 or 3 Thai chilies, slit in halves lengthwise or coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium Tomato, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
  • About 6 stalks of cilantro, remove the woody back and coarsely chop it
  • 3 Green Onion stalks, coarse chop
  • 3 stalks of Chives, coarsely chopped, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional (adds to the smokey flavor)
  • Salt to taste

How To:

  • Rinse the eggplants and pat them dry. Brush little oil all over the eggplants and make 2 verticle slits in each of them. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the eggplants on the baking sheet, and transfer it into the oven to broil. Place them in the topmost rack if possible closer to the heat.
  • About 15-20 minutes into the broiling, using tongs turn the eggplants, so the other side gets roasted as well. Roast it for 15-20 minutes more or until the eggplant is charred from the outside. Remove and set it aside.
  • Once cooled enough to handle remove the charred skin on top and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Using a potato masher mash the eggplants and keep aside.
  • In a pan add oil. Once it is warm add jeera, let it simmer for a minute, and then add ginger-garlic paste and green chilies, cook it for a minute on medium-low flame.
  • Add chopped onions and some salt, saute it for 2-3 minutes or till the onions are soft and pink. Do not brown them.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and continue to cook it further for about 5 minutes till it softens and it all comes together.
  • Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, cilantro, chives, and green onion to this and mix it all well. Cook it for about 2 minutes.
  • Add mashed eggplant mix it all together and further cook for about 5 minutes stirring it in between. Give it a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed, and serve.

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Serving suggestion:

  • Sprinkle some cilantro over it. Serve it hot with Bajri roti (pearl millet flatbread).
  • It can also be served with paratha or naan. 
  • It can also be served with plain rice.

Note:

  • Chilies: You can use any other chilies per your availability and preference. You can also use green masala if you have it handy in the absence of chilies.
  • Ginger-Garlic paste: In absence of this paste just grate 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 inch of ginger and use as specified.
  • Eggplant: Pick the one that is big, roundish, and feels lighter in hand compared to others. I have noticed that the lighter ones have fewer seeds. Roast the eggplant and remove the skin immediately once it is cool enough to handle. Also in case if you don’t like the seeds you can discard it when you scoop out the pulp.
  • Grilling: Use the same method if roasting on a grill. Coat the eggplants with oil and cut slits in them. Place it on an open fire and make sure to turn them around to roast them evenly on all sides.
  • Smoked paprika: You can replace smoked paprika with Kashmiri chili powder or regular chili powder.

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