Eggplant a.k.a. Aubergine or Brinjal is a much neglected vegetable in my opinion. Despite of its enormous health benefits and versatility, it often gets ignored in the vegetable curries. Even in the restaurants, we seldom find anything other than Baingan bharta on the menu.
Which makes me sad sometimes, seeing us not exploring the full potential and taste of the vegetable which truly is wonderful in taste and nutrition.
Eggplant is a very versatile vegetable and easily blends with whatever dish you put it in. It has that bland, earthy sort of taste which serves as the biggest advantage over the rest of the lot. Since it allows it to blend in easily into any dish.
I cook baingan in a lot of ways, and I wish I could put them all together quickly and share them with you as soon as possible. But that will take its own course of time. As of now, let’s move to the recipe of the day- Baingan bharta.
Baingan bharta is simply roasted and mashed eggplant cooked with strong spices. Its a typical Punjabi dish which tastes awesome especially when served with crispy Laccha parathas.
In a typical Indian kitchen, large, deep violet colored, pulpy brinjals are charred on an open flame, mashed and then mixed along with a spicy tempering made of onions, tomatoes and basic north Indian spices.
Here, in my English kitchen, I try to roast the aubergines in an oven. It saves the hassle and time and though it works well as long as the cooking thing is concerned. But that mouthwatering smoky flavour that comes from charring the baingan is what makes this dish so amazing. Roasting it over coals adds another level of brilliance to it.
I usually add green peas to the Baingan bharta since I like the sweet taste of peas mixed up with the earthy and smoky flavours from the mashed eggplant. But you could totally skip it if you like.
Also, I love the use of garlic (lehsun) in bharta. Especially the flavour of roasted garlic like in this roasted garlic raita I posted. So while I roast the brinjals on an open flame, I also tend to embed the garlic pods into it. That adds to the nice smoky flavour overall. But do take care if you try this since the garlic pods tend to get burnt very quickly. So you might want to insert them into the brinjal skin after its half cooked or maybe remove them halfway through. If you are not sure, skip this step.
If you like to cook Authentic Punjabi recipes, you might like to try other recipes that I have posted-
Punjabi baingan bharta | Aubergine (eggplant) mash with peas
- 2-3 medium sized brinjals aubergine/eggplant
- 1 cup green peas thawed if frozen
- 2 medium onions chopped small
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped small
- piece A small of ginger minced
- 2-3 green chilies minced or chopped fine
- 4-5 medium sized garlic pods
- 2 tbsp cooking oil I used sunflower oil for this
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp red chili powder coriander powder each
- ½ tsp anardana pomegranate seeds coarse powder-optional
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp garam masala
- leaves A handful of fresh cilantro rinsed and chopped, coriander
Rinse the baingan (brinjal/ aubergine/ eggplant) thoroughly and pat dry it with a napkin or kitchen towel. Prick it at 5-6 places with knife so we could insert garlic pods into them.
Roast the baingan on open flames (* See notes if you are roasting them in oven), turning frequently, every 2-3 minutes to ensure even cooking from all sides. Insert the garlic pods half way through so they also get roasted for about 7-8 minutes at least.
Once the aubergines are cooked properly (insert a knife inside to check that), keep them aside to let cool off a bit.
Once cold enough to touch, take the garlic pods out if you have used them. Mince them slightly and keep aside.
Then immerse the cooked eggplants into a mixing bowl full of cold water and gently peel off the skin. You could also do the peeling under cold running water so your hands dont get sticky.
Once skinned completely, mash it slightly using a potato masher or back of a spoon. I just use my hands to do so. Keep aside.
In a pan or wok, heat the oil. Throw in bay leaf and cumin seeds, let them sizzle. Then add chopped ginger and green chilies. Fry for a few seconds, then add the chopped onions and fry for a few minutes till they start turning pink.
Now add chopped tomatoes and roasted garlic bits along with all the spices except garam masala. Cook for a few minutes with lid on till tomatoes get all mushy and start leaving the oil off the pan.
Add in mashed aubergine now, mix everything well and cook without the lid at low gas. Keep stirring in between
Finally, add garam masala and chopped coriander leaves, mix well and switch off. Serve with hot crispy paratha or poori.
Pick the brinjal without seeds, the lighter one with a smooth shiny skin. And not the one with lines or patterns on the skin for bharta.
If you are looking for more side dishes without potatoes-
Gajar matar sabzi- Easy peasy side with minimal spices, great for everyday meals
Ghee lauki- Dudhi (bottle guard) cooked with ghee and cumin seeds
Lehsuni gobhi- Cauliflower florets in a mild garlic-y tempering
Bhindi pyaz masala– Okra (lady finger) with onion and mild spices
Lauki soya- Dudhi cooked with protein packed soya nuggets