Baingan bharta does not last long in my house, mostly because I have no self-control and eat it all immediately. Okay, not all of it. I mean, I do share. This is one of those dishes that I would literally eat every day if I could. A mí me encanta. I luuuurve it. So, what exactly is baingan bharta? Baingan means eggplant in Hindi and bharta refers to a dish that is mashed. Add some onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and aromatic spices, and you have yourself a tasty eggplant curry. Yes, please.
Bhartas are typical to North India, and there are tons of variations to this dish: super tomatoey, no onions, lots of peas, etc. My version involves a tiny confession. You see, typically the eggplant should be roasted over an open flame to achieve the dish’s smoky flavor profile, but I take a shortcut and use the microwave. If you’re not on board with the microwave, you can also:
- Roast the eggplant in the oven. Cut eggplants lengthwise and roast on a greased baking pan cut-side down at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.
- If you have a gas stove, you can roast it over the burner until the skin is charred and the flesh is soft.
Pull out that Bath & Body Works candle from your gift stash, grab a lighter, and roast away.
Okay, don’t try option #3. I am stuck with an electric stove for now, and the microwave is just so convenient. The eggplant will still be delicious, and I promise none of your friends will take a bite and then throw it across the room demanding that it be smokier. If they do, then you need some new amigos.
For the mashing, I use one of my kitchen tool MVPs, the immersion blender. Buy it once, and then live long and prosper. I love this thing. Just stick it in the pan and blend until you reach the mashed consistency you prefer. Baingan bharta is a great dish to introduce to people who are not big fans of eggplant. Eggplant itself is quite mild in flavor, but the texture can be off-putting until you transform it into something.
I like to consider this recipe my “base” dish for eggplant. Some people like to add tons of onion to the eggplant, but if you’re watching your carbs, you know that onions (2.5 net carbs/ounce) can add up quickly! If you like the super tomatoey flavor, add in some tomato paste or extra tomatoes. When I’m making this just for myself, I add in some serious heeeat in the form of serranos or extra jalapeños. If heat is not your thing, make sure to deseed the jalapeños before throwing them in the blender.
Need some ideas for a partner-in-crime? Try out this recipe with any of these side dishes:
- 2 eggplants
- 1/2 pound tomatoes
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 jalapeños
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 inch piece ginger, skin on
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 4 tbs grassfed ghee
- Chopped cilantro, to garnish
- Poke eggplants several times with a fork to allow steam to vent while cooking.
- Place eggplants on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 10 minutes in microwave. Allow eggplants to cool before peeling skins off and discarding. Set eggplant aside.*
- Add ghee to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion and cook until soft.
- In a blender, puree tomatoes, ginger, garlic, jalapeños, and spices (not including cumin seeds).
- Add cumin seeds to pan and then add tomato puree. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add eggplant to pan and using an immersion blender, mash eggplant to desired consistency.
- Lower heat to low-medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
- *Alternative cooking method: Cut eggplants lengthwise and roast on a greased baking pan cut-side down at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.
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