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Baingan Bharta

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings: 2 as a main (4 as a side)
Calories: 224kcal
Author: Nisha Vora

Ingredients

Baingan

  • 1 medium-sized eggplant (about 1 pound, or 450g)
  • Grapeseed oil or avocado oil (or neutral-flavored oil of choice)

Bharta

  • 1 ½ tablespoons neutral-flavored oil of choice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red (or yellow) onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1- inch piece ginger, grated (or minced)
  • 1 small serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional for spicy!; omit for moderate heat)*
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 medium plum or roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon kashmiri red chile powder*
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup (16g) cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped

For serving

  • Vegan naan, roti, or other flatbread, or cooked white or brown rice

Instructions

  • Note: These first five steps are for the smoking the eggplant; check out the blog post & notes below for the alternative sauté method.*
    Ventilate your kitchen and open the windows. Grab a fan if you have one. Peel any leaves from the top of the eggplant to prevent them from burning. Brush the eggplant with a bit of oil using a pastry brush or your hands, just a light coating.
  • Turn a gas burner on your stove to medium-low heat. Use tongs to hold the eggplant upright (vertically) and hold the bottom of the eggplant over the flame for 3 to 6 minutes to char the bottom, or until a paring knife can pierce the bottom without too much resistance.
    Flip the eggplant 180º and use tongs to char the top of the eggplant for 2 to 3 minutes, but make sure the stem doesn’t directly touch the flame to avoid burning.
  • Place the eggplant onto its side (lying flat, horizontally) and rest it directly on top of the flame, positioning the fatter bottom part directly over the flame. Gently rotate the eggplant every 2 minutes.
    Once deeply charred and very wrinkly, insert a paring knife into the fattest part: if the knife slides in easily and there is minimal resistance, the bottom is done. If your eggplant was soft/ripe to begin with, it might take 8 minutes. If not, it can take 16 minutes.
    Now insert a paring knife into the skinnier top part part. If it has no resistance, the eggplant is done. If there is a bit of resistance, cook for 4 to 6 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes, until charred and wrinkly.
    Note: as the eggplant cooks, it might sizzle a bit and some juice might escape onto your stove. This is normal.
  • Turn off the heat and use tongs to transfer the eggplant to a bowl. Cover with a plate to steam for 5 minutes. Use your hands to peel off the charred papery black flakes. Dip your hands in water to make it easier to peel. It's okay if tiny little black spots remain.
  • Slice off the head of the peeled eggplant. Using a knife, flat ended spatula, or potato masher, mash the flesh of the eggplant, as if you were mincing garlic.
    Note: If your eggplant was ripe/soft to begin with, it's possible the cooked eggplant will be quite watery. If that's the case, add it to a fine mesh sieve and push down on it with a spoon to squeeze out as much excess water as you can.
  • Make the bharta. Heat the 1 1/2 TBSP oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute, tossing or swirling frequently to prevent burning. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, but don’t let them brown. Add the garlic, ginger, serrano peppers, and turmeric, and cook, stirring frequently for 60 to 90 seconds. Add the coriander, salt, and tomatoes, and cook until the oil starts to release from the tomatoes and the tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the mashed eggplant mixture and red chile powder and toss well to combine. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often and mashing together. Add in the garam masala and chopped cilantro and season with ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Serve warm with bread or rice of choice.

Video

The only eggplant dish my boyfriend will eat
The only eggplant dish my boyfriend will eat

Notes

Sauté method for the baingan (eggplant): 
  1. Slice a peeled eggplant into ½-inch pieces. 
  2. Heat 2 1/2 TBSP oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add eggplant and ½ tsp kosher salt. Cook for 6 min, tossing occasionally, until it starts to break down. Reduce to medium and cook until soft and jam-like and there’s no resistance, about 20 minutes. 
  3. Mash the eggplant as described in the instructions above. You can use the Dhungar method for additional smokiness (instructions are in the FAQ).
Bharta Notes: *If omitting the serrano pepper but you want some heat, use more kashmiri chile powder, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons.