Baingan bharta (roasted eggplant with tomato)

On a simmering stove, the silky sweet pulp of roasted eggplant melts into the tart juiciness of tomatoes filling the kitchen and then the neighboring quarters with its piquant perfume... laced with cumin & coriander the smokiness of this relish lingers on the palate long after that first bite.

This is a north Indian dish and being from south I only tasted it when we were out one evening for dinner while living in Delhi. This burst of complex flavors took me by surprise and however much I tried I couldn’t break it down to figure out the list of things that went into it until a friend showed me how very few ingredients are actually required for this delicious confection.

Every time I make this recipe I think of my friend and the good times we’ve had together.

It tastes as good with a toasted slice of favorite bread as it does with roti (Indian bread) or rice.

Baingan is Eggplant and bharta refers to any dish where the ingredients are mashed either before or after the actual cooking.

serves 3.

Eggplant -1
Oil - 2 tbsp (olive oil works great)
Onions - 2 (medium sized) finely chopped
Tomatoes - 2 (chopped into small pieces)
Green chilies - 1 or 2 (finely chopped)
Salt (adjust according to taste)
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
chili powder - 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – ¼ cup (finely chopped)

preparing eggplant

Rub Eggplant with few drops of oil. Prick it a few times using fork throughout (this is important because it prevents eggplant from bursting in the oven).

Line a baking sheet with foil and then parchment paper - to avoid aluminum from touching the food… Martha’s tip ;-)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place the baking sheet with the eggplant in the oven and bake it for about an hour or until the skin is charred. Flip the eggplant every 15 min or so to allow it to roast evenly on all sides.

When it’s done, take it out and make a slit in the middle, lengthwise with a knife and let it cool.

Once it is cool, scoop out the seeds and discard.

Salvage as much flesh as possible. Scrape the inside of the skin if there is any pulp left.
Roughly mash it or give a few chops on the cutting board.

cooking the eggplant

Set a frying pan on medium-low flame. Add oil.

When the oil is hot enough, add onions. Sprinkle salt and saute’ until tender and the edges are beginning to slightly brown.

Add tomatoes and let it cook until tomatoes are well done.

Sprinkle cumin powder & coriander powder and mix well.

Add eggplant paste. Cook it until the eggplant takes on the color of tomatoes. Stir in chili powder.

At this point you can notice oil beginning to separate from the gravy (or bubbling around the edges of the pan). This is the clue for most of the dishes that they are done.
Sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve.

~This dish takes a little bit more oil than others. So I use Olive oil. I think it kind of gives an Italian touch too.
For an added twist you could sauté a tsp or two of finely chopped garlic along with the onions and sprinkle any fresh herbs you like, in the end.

~I used to roast the eggplant on stove top as ovens are not a commonly found feature in Indian homes. But here I bake it in the oven.

...and here it is, a tasty treat to go into your picnic basket on Mother's day ( ' v ' )
Have fun!


Stephanie said...

Yum. Mr. Creation does not cook so I'll have to fill the picnic basket for myself. :o) Wonderful tips on how to roast an eggplant. Thank you for another delicious recipe to taste.

Nanette Merrill and daughters said...

Ohh that looks delicious. I can imagine the aroma. I think this would be good too with roasted squash. Yum. Thanks PRatima!

Lily Boot said...

pratima, that first paragraph of exquisite writing has me swooning .... so beautiful. We will hopefully go on a mother's day picnic - and your recipe sounds delicious. I shall show Julian and he can make it :-)

sewplay said...

Thanks Pratima. I can also imagine the aroma with your beautiful writing and photographs. Off to the greengrocer!xxKathy

Martha said...

Your photos and descriptions make the recipes so appealing. This is way better than any cookbook, and I am looking forward to the next installment.

I just want to say again how much I appreciate the care you have taken to create these wonderful posts.

alobsiger said...

OOoooooooooh, Pratima!!!! I'm so glad I stopped by. I have been having a love affair with eggplant this year and this dish looks delicious. I'm definitely going to give it a try. I haven't had breakfast and you're making me hungrier. ;-)

ashima said...

Pratima, this is so beautiful! I suddently remembered you were going to post and decided to drop by to have a peak! My mouth is watering and the pictures and description is absolutely exquisite! You're a gem :)

Candace said...

Wow - I can almost smell the dish through my computer, Pratima! Mr. Squash and I planted those long eggplants today - I look forward to cooking them with your wonderful recipe!

Blue Ridge Mountains said...

This sounds absolutely yummy. I can hardly wait for summer with it plentiful harvest of eggplant.