As summer draws to a close and the days shorten, I’m sometimes at a loss as to what I want to eat. Something cooling or something warming? Something light or comfort food? In a few more weeks, this won’t be a problem. In a few more weeks, I’ll be wanting Daal or a hearty stew almost every day. Till then, I want to enjoy what’s left of the sun before it disappears from Seattle skies for another eight months. Till then, I want something light and comforting.
That’s where this brilliant dish comes in. Once you make it, it’s up to you to eat it piping hot, scooped up in warm naan or eat it cold mixed with a swirl of yogurt and a bit of rice. It can be made into a light meal or a substantial one. It’s also great for weekend brunches as you can spread some of that smoky eggplant goodness on crusty slices of baguette and top off with gruyere.
In this Punjabi dish, the eggplant is traditionally smoked by placing it whole in a fire or on hot coal. At home, I roast the eggplant in the oven. You could also use the broiler.
Baingan ka bharta is easily one of my favorite eggplant dishes. I love eggplant. I have an unabashed and unapologetic desire for it’s taste and texture. If you’re not sure about this glorious vegetable, be warned, this recipe might not be for you!
And finally, here’s the recipe after the pictures.
Baingan Ka Bharta
- 2 large eggplants
- 2 teaspoons + 4 tablespoons high heat oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 inch ginger, grated
- 3 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- Roughly 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/2 a lime or to taste
- Cilantro for garnish
- Tomato slices for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse and dry the whole eggplants. Smear them all over with high heat oil. Place the eggplants on a tray lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes or till the eggplants are wrinkly and shrivelled up. Don’t worry, they’ll taste all smoky and rich! Broiling them should speed it up but unfortunately we have an old gas oven and the broiler is inconsistent. You can roast the eggplants ahead of time and refrigerate them if you like.
- Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut the ends. You can remove the seeds if you dislike the bitterness of eggplants. Chop roughly.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. The oil is hot enough if a cumin seed thrown in sizzles.
- Sizzle the cumin seeds for just 10 seconds before adding the onions, garlic and ginger.
- Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently or till the onion is slightly brown.
- Add all the spices, tomatoes and 1/2 glass of water. Cook for another 10 minutes or till the tomatoes are mushy and the oil has separated.
- Add the eggplant, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- Salt to taste and squeeze half of a fresh lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro and slices of tomato.
- Serve with naan, pita bread, spread on baguette or with rice.
Have a glorious weekend!