Baingan bharta or Mashed eggplant curry is a classic North Indian recipe where eggplants are grilled over charcoal to infuse a smoky flavour and is cooked with a blend of spices. Today, I’m going to walk you through the oven method.
Now, most of you are aware that I hail from the southern part of India and it is pretty evident from the kind of recipes I post. However, this does not mean that I am not a die-hard fan of a good curry and roti (Indian flat bread). The first recipe that I will be introducing in my North Indian themed week is Baingan Bharta or Mashed Eggplant curry (My son’s personal favourite). I guess you can say that half the reason I chose this recipe today was because my son is here and Baingan Bharta is a must in my home when he is around (So a good time to take pictures to lure you people to my blog ????.
What is Baingan Bharta?
Let me decipher the mysterious term Baingan Bharta or Baingan ka Bharta. Baingan simply means eggplant/aubergine and Bharta is anything mashed (Don’t worry this is not a baby food recipe!). Traditionally the eggplants are grilled over charcoal or direct fire till the skin is charred, and the dish is infused with a smoky flavour which imparts a new dimension to this recipe. Then, you peel off the skin and cook with a fine blend of spices. Todays kitchens are not equipped with traditional cooking methods, but a good enough substitute can be found by roasting the eggplant directly on the flame of a gas stove. I personally find this method a pain and way too messy. Roasting the eggplant in an oven is the best mess-free way to go.
The tender and delicate eggplant provides the right amount of sweetness produced via roasting to balance out the bold dash of spices introduced in this recipe. My favourite part is the simple use of freshly grated ginger that provides a very clean and fresh taste to this dish. Give this a try and make this the new favourite in your house. It is best served with roti, or any other Indian bread like Paratha, Naan or Puri.
Step-by-Step process to prepare
Baingan bharta or Mashed Eggplant:
- Rinse the eggplants with water and dry it with a kitchen tissue. Pre-heat the oven at 220 degree Celsius and rub a little oil on the Eggplant.
- Prick a few holes into the Eggplant with a fork and place it in a oven-proof dish.
- Roast it for 45 min to 1 hour or till done, flipping halfway through.
- Check doneness by inserting a knife. The cook time depends on the size of the Eggplant.
- Alternately you can also roast on medium/low gas flame or on charcoal fire, which gives a nice smoky flavour.
What is Dhungar technique?
You can also use the Dhungar technique of infusing smoky flavour into the eggplant. You can do this after roasting the eggplant in the oven. Heat a small piece of natural charcoal on flame till it becomes smoking hot and red. Place the hot charcoal and roasted aubergine in the same plate. The charcoal begins to smoke when you add a few drops of ghee/oil. The moment smoke begins to release, cover the plate with a large bowl so that smoke cannot escape.
1 to 2 minutes of this process will do the job to infuse smoky flavour to the eggplant. You can also do this method once the baingan bharta is cooked. For this you put the hot charcoal in a small bowl and keep it in the bowl which has cooked Baingan ka bharta. Rest of the process is the same as above. This is purely optional step. Just wanted to share with you guys. May be I will post this method later when I have time. Today I’m going to walk you through the simple oven method.
Let’s move on to the recipe!!
- In the mean time finely chop onions, green chillies and tomatoes.
- Grate ginger and garlic garlic.
- Chop handful of coriander and a few ginger strands go garnish.
- Once the Eggplant is done, remove it and let it cool. Then peel the skin off and mash it.
- Heat remaining oil in a pan over medium heat and add cumin and mustard seeds.
- Once they sizzle add chopped onion, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Give it a good stir till the onions turn translucent. This takes about 5 minutes.
- Now add chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes till the oil separates from the mixture.
- Now add mashed eggplant and mix well. Let it cook for another 5 to 7 minutes on low heat till the spices blend well into the eggplant mixture.
- Finally add garam masala powder and handful of finely chopped coriander. Stir well and turn off the heat.
- Tasty and delicious Baingan Bharta is ready to pair it with your favourite bread or rice.
- Garnish with coriander, some ginger strands and sliced tomato. serve hot with rotis, chapatis or paratas.
- 2 Eggplants
- 2 tbsp oil divided
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 1 " ginger grated
- 6 Garlic cloves grated or minced
- 2 green chillies finely chopped
- 2 Tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp Garam Masala Powder
- Salt to taste
- Coriander Handful, finely chopped
- Pre-heat the oven at 220 degree Celsius. Wash and dry the eggplant. Rub a little oil on it. Prick a few holes on the Eggplant with a fork. Place it in the oven and roast for 45 min to 1 hour till done, flipping halfway through.
- In the mean time finely chop onions, green chillies, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and coriander.
- Cool, peel the skin off the eggplant and mash it.
- Heat remaining oil in a pan over medium heat and add cumin and mustard seeds. Once they sizzle add chopped onion, green chillies, ginger and garlic. Sauté till the onions turn translucent.
- Now add turmeric, red chilli powder, chopped tomato pieces and cook till the oil separates from the mixture.
- Now add mashed eggplant and required salt and mix well
- Let it cook for another 5 to 7 minutes on low heat till the spices blend well into the eggplant mixture.
- Finally add garam masala powder and lots of finely chopped coriander. Mix well and turn off the heat.
- While buying the eggplant, select one that is light. A heavy eggplant indicates that there are ripe seed in it and this may spoil the taste of the bharta.
- You can use the dhungar technique of infusing smoky flavour in the baingan. This is an optional step.
- You can add half a teaspoon of cumin powder if you wish to.
- My garam masala powder has coriander powder, so I don't include it.
Hope you enjoyed Baingan Bharta or Mashed Eggplant Curry !!
Many more to come!!…..STAY TUNED!!
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated with Video and replaced with better pictures for comprehensiveness and freshness.