Smoky Eggplant Mash/ Baigan Bharta
If you are an eggplant lover you will fall in love with this dish and if you are not, you still will. This is one such dish that converts an eggplant hater into an eggplant lover. I was not an eggplant fan in my younger days but slowly I started to enjoy the smokiness of this dish.
The eggplants are roasted until their skin is charred. the skin is then removed and the smoky pulp forms is the hero of the dish. Traditionally, the eggplants are roasted on charcoal or wood-fire but in our modern kitchens the oven does the trick. Ofcourse if you have access to a tandoor or a charcoal grill use that by all means.
The recipe I am sharing is my maternal grandmom's or nanima's. (as we call it in Hindi). Maybe not exactly the same but still brings back those amazing memories of summer holidays at her house.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
2 medium sized eggplants
1 large onion chopped finely
2 tomatoes chopped finely or 1 cup of ready tomato pulp
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen), If frozen, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes
1 inch piece ginger, chopped fine
1 green chili, slit lengthwise and seeds removed if you prefer non-spicy
1 tsp Red Chilli powder
2 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Garam masala
Fresh Coriander (10-12 sprigs)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
To roast the eggplant, first apply a thin layer of oil on the surface of the eggplant and make a couple of long slits. For added flavor you can insert a piece of garlic in the slits of the eggplant. Directly roast the eggplants on the flame or charcoal until completely charred from all sides. Alternatively, you can put them in a preheated oven at 200 C for 30 minutes.
This step is important to ensure that eggplants are roasted over to all sides and get uniformly charred. A knife can be passed through the eggplant at to check if it is cooked inside. The knife should pass through smoothly. In case eggplant is uncooked inside, you will feel the resistance.
While the eggplants are being roasted prep the other ingredients for the dish.
Once done, let the eggplant cool. Remove the skin of the roasted eggplant. If the eggplant has roasted well, this should be easy to do. Now take the pulp of the eggplant and chop it into small pieces. Keep aside.
In a heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil and add onions and sauté until pink and translucent. Now add ginger and cook for a minute until the ginger has changed color.
Add the eggplant pieces and sauté them on medium heat for about 5-7 min. Keep on mashing the eggplant pieces with the back of the laddle to make them mushy. If the eggplant sticks to the bottom of the pan, add a splash of water.
Once ready add tomatoes and the rest of the spices to the eggplant mash. Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes get cooked, approximately 10 minutes. You will notice oil on the sides of the pulp, which means that the tomatoes are ready. Finally, add the peas followed by salt.
Finish off by adding lots of fresh coriander.
Serve hot with roti’s and a lentil curry of your choice.