Authentic Punjabi-style Baingan Bharta (A mashed eggplant delicacy)

Yet another punjabi favorite at our home, this dish in all its simplicity, excels in taste as well as flavor.

Baingan ka bharta can be simply described as a mashed eggplant delicacy, made by roasting the eggplant directly over the flame and then cooked with an onion-tomato tempering and some simple spices.

The most important step of this recipe is to roast the eggplant over the flame carefully and to the perfection, as this will infuse the distinct smoky charcoal flavor that we absolutely want in our bharta. Nowdays, many people opt for cooking the eggplant in ovens or microwaves for convenience, but I would strongly recommend roasting it over the fire.

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When you buy an eggplant for making the bharta, look for lightweight ones. Heavy ones indicate that they have ripe seeds and are old. That can affect the taste of your bharta.

Baingan ka bharta goes very well with simple wholewheat chapattis and eventhough adding peas to it is optional, I never make bharta without them. It’s a match truly made in food heaven. So, give this recipe a go and enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large Eggplant (or two small ones)

2 medium sized onions, finely chopped

2 large ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 cup steamed peas

1 green chilly, chopped

1 tbsn ginger-garlic paste

3 fat cloves of garlic

2 tbsn oil+ 1 tbsn ghee (clarified butter)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander powder

1  tsp turmeric

1/2  tsp red chilly powder

Salt to taste

A pinch of garam masala

Lots of fresh chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

-Take your eggplant and wash it thoroughly under the running water. Do not cut the tail of the eggplant! Wipe dry with a kitchen towel.

-Taking a little oil in your hands, massage the eggplant all over so that it has a thin coating of oil all over. This will help in the roasting afterwards.

-Taking a knife, make some small gashes/cuts all over the egg plant, so that the heat can enter the inside and cook it well.

-Take the garlic cloves and cut each of them in half vertically. Insert these garlic halves into the gashes.

-Put the heat on your hob to medium and holding the tail of the eggplant, carefully put it over the open flame. You can also use tongs to handle the eggplant. Please be extremely careful during this step.

-Keep turning the eggplant every 2-3 minutes. We want it thoroughly cooked and tender. You can check the doneness by gently inserting the knife in it. It should go inside without any resistance. Once the eggplant is completely soft and roasted all over, switch off the gas and keep it to cool in a plate.

-If you are using an oven, preheat the oven at 200 degree C and bake it for about 45 minutes, turning the sides every fifteen minutes. You will not get the smoky flavor with this method. Remove from the oven when the eggplant is completely soft and tender. Keep to cool.

-Once the eggplant has cooled down, first remove the garlic cloves gently from the eggplant. They will be nicely roasted and brown by now.

-Next, remove the charred skin completely from the eggplant. This is very easy to do because of the oil we had applied to the eggplant earlier. Discard the skin. Chop off the stem as well and discard.

-Take a potato masher and gently mash the peeled eggplant with it. You will instantly get an aromatic, mashed up mixture.

-Now, the tempering. In a large, deep pan/wok, take your oil and ghee together. Keep the flame on medium-low.

-Once they are heated up, add the cumin seeds. They should crackle instantly.

-Add the green chilly and onions. Also, chop your roasted garlic pods and add at this point. Cook till the onions turn translucent.

-Add the ginger-garlic paste next and fry the mixture for around a minute, till the raw aroma of g.g paste goes away.

-Add the chopped tomatoes next. Mix well. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are completely soft and the oil starts leaving the mixture.

-Add the dry masalas and salt at this point and stir the mix together..

-Add the mashed eggplant and again, mix it very well with the tempering till everything is well blended with each other.

-Cook covered till you see the oil leaving the sides of your bharta.

-Finally, throw in your steamed peas and mix gently. Cook the whole thing for around 5-6 minutes more on low flame.

-Switch off the gas and garnish your bharta with lots of chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with chapattis or parathas. Enjoy!

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