Baingan ka Bharta | Roasted Eggplant Mash | Smoky roasted eggplant cooked with a mix of caramelized onions, tomatoes and spices.
Baingan ka bharta is a simple yet flavorful dish that’s a perfect meal addition when you want something warm and comforting. “Bharta” in Hindi translates to anything that is mashed and “Baingan/Baigan” are eggplants/aubergines. Although Baingan ka bharta is something I grew up eating, I felt indifferent towards it during my childhood years. Ever since I started cooking in my own kitchen however, I find myself craving and appreciating the simple home cooked meals my parents made for us more and more! This dish is a perfect example and is now one of my favorite meals as an adult. I get tempted just thinking, or writing about it!
Like so many Indian dishes, every household has their own variation, making the recipe personal to their families. The traditional North Indian preparation method for the eggplant is to be roasted in a tandoor; clay oven to give it that smoky flavor. Since most home kitchens are void of a tandoor, the eggplant can be broiled in the oven or roasted over an open flame before peeling. I prefer the later as I feel when the skin chars over the open flame the eggplant pulp partakes the smoky taste.
I’m sharing both options in the recipe below. When selecting your eggplants, choose medium, deep purple ones that are light in weight compared to their counterparts, this will result in a more tender eggplant with less seeds.
- 2 medium eggplants, approx. 1 lbs
- 1 cup red onion, chopped
- ½ cup tomato, diced
- 2 tablespoon cooking oil of choice
- ½ tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon jeera/cumin
- 1 small green chili, slit
- ½ teaspoon dhaniya/coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon lal mirchi/red chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon haldi/turmeric powder
- 1½ teaspoon salt; adjust to taste
- Fresh lemon juice
- Freshly chopped dhaniya/cilantro
- Roast your eggplant (on open flame or using the oven)
- Stove Top: Pierce the eggplant in 3-4 places with a fork. Rub the eggplant with some oil or ghee and place it on the fire, roasting it for 3-4 minutes turning frequently with tongs. Char the eggplant on all sides.
- Oven Method: Alternatively, you can bake the eggplant for 25 minuets, in a 400F oven. Rub the eggplant with oil or ghee and turn the eggplant every 7-8 minuets ensuring all the sides are roasted.
- Once the skin is roasted and the eggplant is soft, remove it and place in a bowl. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a lid that fits well. Let sit for 5-7 minuets so the eggplants build steam inside the bowl. After steaming, the skin should peel off with ease. Discard the skin, chop the pulp and and keep aside.
- In a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, warm oil and add jeera/cumin.
- Once the jeera starts to sputter, add the split green chili and chopped onions. Cook until the onion starts to soften and become pinkish translucent.
- Add in ginger garlic paste and the roasted eggplant. Mix well before adding in the salt, haldi, lal mirch and dhaniya powder.
- Let cook for 3-4 minutes before adding diced tomatoes.
- Cook for another 4-5 minutes before turning off heat and adding a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice.
- Mix well and garnish with fresh dhaniya/cilantro. Serve hot with rotis, naan or rice.