Thursday, June 6, 2019

Baingan Bharta | Mashed Smoked Eggplant Curry

A curry made from roasted eggplant, onion, tomatoes and Indian spices; Baingan Bharta is a MUST-HAVE Indian curry! 



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Eggplant, a vegetable that is either in people's most favorites list or on the list of least favorite. For us at home, we LOVE eggplants in every form and size. So much so that we have an eggplant plant too! The eggplants from that are super awesome and I use it in different recipes. 

From all the eggplant recipes that I make, Baingan   is a family favorite!  This Indian dish is made from fire roasted eggplant, onion, peppers and Indian spices. Baingan Bharta is best enjoyed with roti or bajri roti (pearl millet flatbreads), urad dal and some spicy garlic chutney. 



Making PERFECT Baingan Bharta

Baingan Bharta is a recipe that can sound super intimidating. But it is not very difficult to get it right. Plus, there are a number of variations that can be made. Every family has their favorite ingredients to add to the bharta and the end results might differ slightly. This version is our favorite and I make it SO often! 

The first step to get the recipe right is to pick the perfect eggplant. This recipe is made from the large ones so one large is enough for 2-3 people. Pick an eggplant that is even, dark in color and has no holes. The bottom of the eggplant should have just a dot and not a line. The ones with lines have a LOT of seeds that gives a bitter taste. 

Once you have the eggplant, it can be roasted in several ways. Roast the eggplant well and remove the skin while it is hot. It is way simpler to get all the skin off when it has just been roasted.

When the eggplant is skinned, remove any large seeds that might be in there. The seeds are often bitter and do not give a good taste to the curry. 

Once the eggplant is roasted, the rest of the process takes only 15-20 minutes. Put everything together and a super flavorful and tasty curry is ready! This recipe calls for a few other ingredients except eggplant. Tomatoes, onions, peppers and carrots are added. In case you do not like any of them, you can skip them. Garlic is the flavoring ingredient here and if you can find green garlic scapes, use that. Else regular garlic works well too. 

The curry can be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen. The taste deepens with time and so I like to make it atleast an hour or two before serving. Before serving, just heat the bharta in a pan and top it with cilantro and green onions. 




How to Roast the eggplant

Roasting the eggplant is an essential step in the making of the bharta. There are many ways to roast the eggplant. Pick the method that works best for you.
  • On an open flame: If you would like to roast the eggplant on the stove, just make slits on the eggplant, apply oil and roast it. I like to place some foil on the burner to avoid the juices from creating a mess. 
  • In the oven: This is an easy way to roast the eggplant while preparing other ingredients on the side. To do so, make the slits and apply oil on the eggplant. Heat the oven to 450 F and place the eggplant in a tray in the oven. Grill for 20 minutes, turn over and grill for another 20 minutes. Then set the oven to BROIL for the last 5 minutes.
  • On an outdoor grill: An outdoor gas or charcoal grill is my favorite way to grill the eggplant. The process remains the same but if a charcoal grill is used, the eggplant turns out smoky and flavorful. A gas grill heated to medium high works well too. It takes about 10-12 minutes and more than one eggplant can be made at once! 

Variations

The recipe for Baingan Bharta is pretty simple. It involves preparing the eggplant, mixing all the ingredients and flavoring with spices. The ingredients I have listed below are the ones I use. They are easily available too. However, if you cannot find any or do not like it, you can skip them/ replace them.

The large eggplants are used in the recipe. As that is the base of the recipe, it cannot be substituted. So make sure you find the eggplants. They are available in Indian stores, Asian stores and quite often at farmer's market too. 

If you are a garlic lover like our family, add a couple of extra cloves to the dish. It gives an extra punch of flavor to the bharta. Green peppers can be substituted with yellow or red peppers. Green onions do give the dish a great flavor so I like adding them. Skip them if you cannot find them. 

The spices used are the ones that can be easily found in any Indian pantry. If you like making Indian food, it is a great idea to have these in the pantry. 


Finally, the yogurt used in the recipe is great to bind all the flavors together. In case you do not have that, add 1 tbsp sour cream to the recipe. That works well too. 

Love eggplant? Try these recipes for sure: 



This recipe has been updated from the recipe archives, first published in 2014.

Ingredients

Eggplant 1 large
Onion 1/2 cup diced
Green Pepper 1/2 cup diced
Carrot 1/2 cup diced
Garlic 5-6 cloves minced
Ginger 1/2 inch minced
Tomato 1/2 cup diced
Onion greens 4-5 stalks chopped
Mustard Seeds 1/4 tsp
Cumin Seeds  1/4 tsp
Asafetida a pinch 
Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
Coriander seed powder 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala 1 tsp
Yogurt 3 tbsp
Oil 2 tbsp
Salt 3/4 tsp
Lime Juice 1 tsp
Cilantro and green onions to top


Method

Wash and dry the eggplant. Make 2-3 vertical cuts in the body and apply a thin layer of oil on it. 

Roast the eggplant directly on medium flame, rotating it continuously till it is charred from all sides. This will take about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. This can also be done on a charcoal grill or gas grill. An oven works great for this too.

Once completely charred, place the eggplant on a plate. Let it cool just enough to handle by hand. While it is still hot, remove all the charred skin, cut off the top green portion and mash the eggplant. If there are large seeds in it, remove them too.

In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida. Once the seeds pop, add the garlic and ginger. Saut√© till the raw flavor vanishes. 

Next add onions and peppers and cook till they soft. Put the chopped tomatoes in next and let them cook till mushy. Then add yogurt and whisk well till it completely mixes in. 

Next add the carrots and mashed eggplant. Mix well. Add garam masala, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder and mix well. Add salt and taste if more is required.

Cook till the vegetables are soft. Turn down the flame, and add lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and green onion. Serve hot with millet flatbreads.




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