Baingan Bharta is a warming Indian eggplant stew that brings a medley of vegetables together with a smoky curry sauce for a dish that is delicious with rice or warm flatbread.
Let’s start with the basics.
Baingan (pronounced BANE-gun) is Hindi for eggplant.
Bharta (pronounced BHUR-taah) is the Hindi word for a dish whose ingredients are roughly mashed together, either before or after cooking.
So, Baingan Bharta is a dish of mashed eggplants and other vegetables. It can be seasoned quite mildly, to let the flavor of the eggplant shine through, or it can be seasoned with spices and herbs to give it a curry-like flavor.
You’re probably thinking, “What flavor does eggplant have that deserves to shine?” That’s where this dish gets its incredibly unique twist.
Roasted Indian Eggplant
Baingan Bharta is quite popular in Northern India and Pakistan where, traditionally, the eggplant was roasted in a clay oven or over an open fire. Nowadays, there are many ways to create a similar flavor. A great choice would be roasting the whole eggplant on a charcoal grill. But, if a charcoal grill isn’t handy, you can imitate the flavor by roasting the whole eggplant in your oven.
Something about roasting brings out a slightly sweet and nutty flavor in the eggplant flesh, which pairs wonderfully with the smoky flavor of the slightly charred skin.
Making This Indian Curried Eggplant Dish
There are two ways to make the Baingan Bharta: one using cooked ingredients and the other with raw ingredients which act in support of the roasted and mashed eggplant.
For this our version below, we’re going with the cooked version. To make the curried eggplant dish, we mixed the mashed eggplant with sautéed onions and tomatoes. Curry spices give the dish incredible flavor and accent the smoky notes of the roasted eggplant. If you like dishes that dial up the heat you can even add a green chili in to the vegetable mix.
This slightly chunky stew is delicious scooped with warm flatbread. But, if you’re looking for a bit more to your meal, you can go the way Tim did and eat it over rice.
Yield: 2 cups
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green chili, minced (optional)
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- ¾ tsp cumin
- ¾ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp coriander, ground
- ½ tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 450F. Pierce the eggplant a couple of times with a fork. Place it on a baking sheet and roast it, whole for 20 minutes, until soft. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let cool slightly. Once it is cool to the touch, remove the skin. (It will be quite easy to peel off with your fingers.) Place the eggplant flesh on a plate and roughly mash it with a fork or potato masher.
Heat the oil in a large, cast iron skillet. Add minced onion and saute over medium-high heat until onions are golden, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and green chilies (if using). Saute for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until fragrant, adding water if necessary to keep the mixture smooth.
Mix in the mashed eggplant and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat through.
Serve the Bharta warm with roti and/or rice.