Baingan ka Bharta

Call it bhurta or bharta; these elongated nightshades have never failed to mesmerise my senses when I roast them onto the open fire. In Hindi, bhurta means mash;

The burnt, charred, smoky smell - a distinct and signature flavour of this dish, reminds me of my school lunch box days—Baigan ka bharta with rice chapati- a perfect combo and sweet memory.

This Punjabi recipe traditionally calls for Maharajah Baingan-the long elongated eggplants to help facilitate the grilling over charcoal or open fire. 

But with a modern oven, one can quickly adapt this recipe with any size of nightshades ranging from long aubergines to small brinjals.

The supposedly infused-smoky flavour makes the size of the main ingredient irrelevant and leaves the taste uncompromising. So, let's get to the recipe.

Baingan ka Bharta
Preparation time-20 mins
Cooking time-10 mins
Total time-30 mins
Makes: 2 servings

1 Aubergine
2 tbsp cooking oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 vine tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp paprika/red chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt as per taste
1 sprig of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

1. Rinse the aubergine and pat dry.

2. Use a knife or fork to prick the aubergine a few times and drizzle some oil around the aubergine.
3. Place it on a grill pan and roast under a grill for 4-5 mins or better flavour. Keep it directly on open flame/fire on the gas and roast.

4. Once you see the juice running and the skin is going pale and wrinkly, enough burnt and charred, remove it from the fire and place it on a plate and set it aside to cool.

5. While Aubergine is cooling, prepare the other vegetables in the ingredients list accordingly.

6. Then, using a knife, gently chunk the aubergine into small pieces and incorporate all the dry ingredients with it.

7. Now, use a heavy-bottomed pan and heat the remaining cooking oil and add the cumin seeds.

8. Once the seeds crackle, put the chopped onion and cook until transparent.

9. Then include the minced ginger-garlic paste followed by the tomatoes and green chilli if using.

10. Cook until the juice from the tomatoes is seen faintly disappearing. At this point, stir in the roasted aubergine and simmer on low heat for 2-3 mins or to your desire.

Serving Suggestions:  

Dress this dish with freshly chopped coriander and serve with any variety of bread available, and for sure, this smoky smell is welcome.

  • Suppose using open flame/fire to roast the aubergine. Wear the oven gloves and use the kitchen tongs while handling the aubergine. Turn the aubergine every few mins to help uniform grilling.
  • If roasting under a grill, then the dish doesn't guarantee its signature smoky flavour.
  • To fast forward the procedure without compromising on the smoky infusion, I sometimes partly grill the Aubergine in the oven and finally finish by directly placing it over an open fire.
  • Some people rinse the smoky, hot aubergine under running cold water to hasten the cooling process. But that takes away the skin and the flavour.
  • I prefer to leave the skin intact to retain the nutrition and the smoky fragrance. Authentically too, this dish does not recommend peeling the skin. 
But it's again personal preference. I hope you enjoy adding this dish to your cooking experience.


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