If I had to name one vegetable I couldn’t handle eating as a child – it’s the versatile eggplant or aubergine, frequently used in Indian cooking and better known as ‘Baingan’ or brinjal. (Baingan Bharta just translates to brinjal hash.)
Perhaps it was the texture of the vegetable that bothered me then…and well into my adult years, till I reached a stage when disliking any vegetable was not really an option anymore.
As you’ll see from today’s recipe, I’m over it and happy to bring you a favorite – my homemade version of the well-loved, spiced hash-style preparation ‘Baingan Bharta.’ I like adding fresh peas and sweet corn for a crunchy textural balance to the hash.
The authentic north Indian dish is fairly simple, and the high point of its recipe is the process of fire roasting eggplant on an open flame (a tandoor oven being the most preferred open flame).
So, on many Sundays, when Rohit is grilling outdoors; he’ll fire-roast eggplants on charcoal, giving it a roasted smoky touch.
Alternatively, bake eggplant in your regular oven as per the instructions in this recipe. I know a few friends who roast their eggplants on a wire rack placed on an indoor stovetop flame – a process which can get messy, and is best used as a last resort.
Before we get to the recipe, a quick note to thank all my readers and friends for picking up a copy of our new book and making ‘Tikka, Tikki & Spicy Bites’ a part of your meals. We’re thrilled to hear and read your genuine positive feedback.
Your readership and enthusiasm makes the hard work involved in putting an eBook together worth it. Plus eBooks give you the flexibility to print and have your book on hand on multiple devices like your computer/tablet/smart-phone, at a much lower price.
If you’re still to get a copy, today (May 15th) is the last day for the introductory 20% discount on my site or download it anytime on your local Amazon. Details are on this page. You’ll enjoy using these recipes, especially during the upcoming summer months…
- 1 lb large eggplants (also called brinjal or aubergine)
- 2 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 finely chopped Thai or serrano green chili pepper (optional, for an additional spice kick)
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste (or 1 teaspoon each of grated ginger and minced garlic)
- ¼ teaspoon ground red chili or cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes (or ½ cup tomato puree or sauce also works)
- 1½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup fresh green peas (thawed, if frozen)
- ¼ cup sweet yellow corn (thawed, if frozen)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- To Roast Eggplants in an Oven - Preheat an oven to 400F. Lay the eggplant on a baking sheet and slather 1 teaspoon of canola oil over the skin of the eggplant. Bake at 400F for 40-45 minutes, turning the eggplant over halfway through the cook time. Remove from oven and leave aside until required in the recipe.
- Alternatively, for a more authentic roasted eggplant flavor, fire roast the eggplant on an outdoor grill till it is soft - the skin will char, shrivel and crack when the flesh is cooked.
- Heat canola oil in a pan and add cumin seeds, chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Cook till the onion has browned, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the spices and salt. Cook for another 3-4 minutes till the spices have blended with the aromatics.
- Get the eggplant ready – peel eggplant, discard the skin and the end. The flesh of the vegetable should be soft and mushy after the roasting process. Chop the eggplant well, till you get an almost mashed-up consistency. Add it to the pan with the aromatics and spices.
- Stir in the finely chopped tomatoes, add sugar.
- Stirring intermittently, cover and cook on a medium low flame for 8-10 minutes. (If like me, you are impatient with long cook times, set the timer!) If at any point the hash gets too dry, add 2-3 tablespoons of water, as required.
- Stir in the fresh green peas and sweet yellow corn, drizzle lemon juice over it. Let the flavors marry for another couple of minutes, not longer. You want the peas and corn to have a nice sweet crunch to balance the spicy roasted eggplant flavors. Taste for salt, adding more if desired.
- Serve hot with steamed rice, dinner rolls or Indian flatbread.
- Large eggplant is preferred for this dish, since you use only the inner flesh of the vegetable.