Bangin’ Bharta

This bharta is bangin’.

I’ve had multiple foodgasms over a number of Indian dishes – there are a plethora of lip-smacking choices from all over the subcontinent for plant lovers! – and this Punjabi delight from North India happens to be one of my very favorite things to do with an eggplant.

The most mouth-watering cooking method I’ve encountered involves smoking the eggplant before giving it a good forking. If you don’t have an open flame (gas range or grill) available, you can still roast it in the oven – even better, with a brush of smoked grapeseed oil. Very few versions I’ve experimented with involved curry powder (rather than, say, garam masala) or yogurt (we’ll be using nondairy yogurt), and typically not both at once… but wow, this combo was really the gravy, baby. It’s worth all the trouble the eggplant puts you through!

Makes enough for 4, but expect your guests to beg for more.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, free of wrinkles and brown spots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped semi-fine
  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced small
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 T grated or minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced (about 1T)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
  • 1 single serving (150g) container plain unsweetened coconut or almond milk yogurt (about 1/2 cup plus 2 T)
  • 1 packet stevia (or the equivalent of 2 tsp sugar)
  • Hickory smoked grapeseed oil for oven-roasting (optional, can use olive)
  • Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Roast the eggplant whole over a gas burner turned to medium, or over actual flame (not coals) on the grill, turning with tongs as the skin browns and chars to cook it through. An eggplant of substantial girth may take longer, but it won’t take much more than 10 minutes. You can tell doneness by how easily the flesh is pierced – it should be oh so tender.

Stem the eggplant and pull or cut off all of the charred peel once it’s cooled down enough to handle. A cold water rinse will speed up the cooling. It’ll be messy anyway, so expect to have to rinse the eggplant and your hands more than once! You can use the cooling time to prep the other vegetables.

Alternatively, you can stem, peel and then slice the eggplant lengthwise in roughly 1″ slices, and lay them out on a cutting board. Sprinkle sea salt on both sides, and let the slices sit at least 15 minutes. You’ll notice they’ll start to “sweat” profusely. (This process mitigates the bitterness that accumulates after it’s been harvested and sits awhile.) While the eggplant is sweating it out, heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the slices thoroughly and lay them out on a baking sheet – I like to use parchment paper to keep them from sticking – and brush with a light layer of the grapeseed oil (or olive oil, if not using) on both sides. Roast at least 30 minutes or until the eggplant goes soft.

I forked that bad boy to a pulp.

Now get down to the forking! You get to play masher, provided everyone consents. Chop up the eggplant in chunks and mash it in a bowl or dish using a fork or potato masher. (You want it to be pulpy like baba ganoush.)

Heat the olive oil on medium in a medium saucepan or large frying pan and pan-fry the onion, adding water a tablespoon at a time as needed to keep it well lubed. When it’s soft and translucent and starting to brown, add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeno and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the spices and a little more water as needed to keep them from sticking to the pan, and cook another minute. Add the diced tomato. Cook and stir the mixture until the tomatoes cook through and soften, then stir in the eggplant mash.

Combine the stevia and the yogurt, and add the yogurt to the eggplant concoction. Cook until it’s piping hot. (The great thing about non-dairy yogurt is you don’t have to worry about scalding.) Add salt to taste – the salt-treated eggplant will probably need less. You may want to add up to a cup of water if it needs thinning. It should be the consistency of a “meaty” pasta sauce.

I like to serve Baingan Bharta over brown basmati rice with cilantro garnish, but it’d also be great with naan. The important thing is to relish every morsel.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. dpranita583 says:

    Indian famous dish. check same dish on my site with profit & loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Madame le P. says:

      Yes! I took some liberties with the traditional ingredients, as well as the name, obviously. I can’t wait to make your mango chutney, looks so YUMMY.
      Thanks for all the likes, and welcome!

      Like

      1. dpranita583 says:

        Be in touch with me for so many health related posts.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s