If you like eggplants and Indian food, this recipe is definitely for you. This spiced and smoky Baigan ka Bharta is bangin’…. yup, I went there. I couldn’t resist… the play on words was way too tempting. It’s true though – this recipe is fabulously tasty.
When you think of “Indian cuisine” – Baingan ka Bharta is high on the list. While the recipe varies by region, many Indian restaurants tend to serve Punjabi Baigan ka Bharta, one of the most popular ways of making this dish. Baingan means eggplant and Bharta is a mixture of mashed vegetables. Combine the two and you’ve got an Indian mashed eggplant dish. It tastes better than it sounds.
To make this popular Punjabi dish, you first have to “smoke” your eggplants. Some old school folks (like my parents) do this by turning on the stove and cooking the eggplant right over the flame. You can certainly do this over a direct flame or on a grill – just cook until the skin is nice and charred. I prefer using my oven (less chance of me burning my fingers). Heat your oven to 500 degrees, make a few slits in your eggplant and rub it with oil. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping it over halfway then broil for five minutes. See step 3? That’s what you get when you peel the eggplant.
Doing this infuses the eggplant with a wonderful smoky flavor. Mix the smoky eggplant with the spiced tomato masala and eat it with Paleo Chapati or Paleo Naan. It’s also great served over Basmati rice or spaghetti squash. Baingan ka Bharta can be served as a side dish or as your main meal.
There’s actually a world record for cooking the largest amount of Baingan ka Bharta: 750 pounds. It was done as a protest against a bill that would introduce genetically modified eggplants to India. Protestors delivered a plate of bharta to the Prime Minister’s house along with a note saying if the bill passed, this would be the last GM free bharta he’d eat – no word on whether he ate it (prob not). They gave the rest away to orphanages and to others in need in Delhi. This happened back in 2011. In case you’re interested – there’s currently a moratorium on genetically modified eggplant in India, but the debate continues.
Anyway, back to this tasty, smoky and savory Baingan ka Bharta – if you like eggplant, you will love this.
- 2 large eggplants
- 4 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch knob ginger, minced
- 1-2 Serrano pepper, minced (adjust according to preference)
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- small handful cilantro, chopped
- Preheat oven to 500°F.
- Make four slits in each eggplant and then apply 2 tablespoons of oil over both of the eggplants. Place them on baking sheet and then roast in the oven for 40 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Turn the heat up to a broil for 5 minutes, then remove the eggplants from the oven.
- Allow the eggplant to cool, then remove the skin and chop the flesh. Set aside for now.
- While the eggplant is cooking, add 2 tablespoons of oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Then add cumin seeds.
- Once the cumin seeds begin to splutter, add onions and saute for 10-15 minutes or until the onions turn golden brown.
- Add the garlic, ginger, Serrano pepper and spices.Stir fry for a minute and then add tomatoes. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir-fry for another five minutes.
- Stir in the cooked eggplant and cook for another 5 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.