Baingan Bharta is a prized Indian and Pakistani (Punjabi) dish. It includes roasted eggplant in a delicately spiced dry curry.
- 2 (~1000 grams) small eggplants (globe variety)
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 2-3 tbsp neutral oil such as canola or grapeseed
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2- inch piece ginger, crushed
- 2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp heaped salt, or more to taste
- 1 tsp paprika powder, regular or smoked
- 1/2 red chili powder, or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 small green chili pepper (such as Thai or Serrano), sliced or chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp juice of freshly squeezed lemon
- 1/4 tsp garam masala, optional
To Roast the Eggplant in the Oven
Set your oven rack so that your eggplants will be as close as possible to the heat source. Use a fork or knife to poke holes throughout the eggplant to prevent it from bursting in the oven.
Preheat your broiler on High (550 degrees F/287 C). Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Roast the eggplants for about 30 minutes, turning midway. The skin will blacken and the eggplant may burst a little.
Once the eggplant cools down (you can place it in a bowl of water to speed this up) peel the blackened skin, remove the stem and coarsely mash its flesh. I like to do this using the “pulse” function of my food processor. Set aside.
To Make the Curry
Heat ghee and oil in a skillet a little over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. They will start to sputter. Immediately add the onion and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until slightly golden. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté until the raw smell disappears, or about 20 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook until they’re soft and the oil starts to leave the sides, about 5 minutes. Add a bit of water (if needed so the spices don’t get burnt) and add the salt, paprika, red chili, and turmeric. Add the mashed eggplant and green chili peppers and cook, stirring often, until it is well cooked and becomes mushy like a purée, about 8-10 minutes. Taste and add oil, salt or paprika (for more color) as needed.
Turn off the heat. Stir in the chopped cilantro leaves. Sprinkle lemon juice and garam masala over it. Serve with naan, roti or other bread. I like to eat it with some yogurt on the side to add some coolness to the dish.
HOW TO SERVE BAINGAN BHARTA
Since eggplant is a ‘warming’ food, it pairs really well with cooling sides. I almost always serve Baingan Bharta with yogurt on the side.
Also, curries with minimal gravy go well with bread. Since Baingan Bharta is a ‘dry’ curry with minimal curry, it’s typically served with naan, roti, or other bread.