|Punjabi menu - Baingan Bharta, Dhabewali Dal, Parathas|
For someone who hated brinjals all through my childhood, my present love for Baingan Bharta is something that surprises me no end. I don't recall when I tried making this first or whether I ate it at a restaurant that led to this love. Whenever I'm ordering vegetables, I make sure there are big brinjals in the list so one of the dishes in the weekly menu is always baingan bharta. It is surprising that I have not shared my recipe for the same on the blog in the last 9+ years.
Baingan Bharta is a popular Punjabi dish that pairs superbly with plain rotis /parathas and the large eggplants are often charred in a tandoor in the highway side dhabas to prepare this dish. The curry is prepared with a mix of onions and tomatoes fried with ginger, garlic and other spices, the end result being a thick puree like dish and not the typical watery or creamy curry base.
While a lot of recipes will say it is okay to roast the brinjal / eggplant in the oven, I am of the firm belief that nothing compares to the smoky aroma that roasting it on a direct flame (or even better, on charcoals) imparts to the dish. With a light coat of oil all over the brinjal with its stem intact (which you can use to rotate the brinjal from side to side), place on the flame, and keep rotating it until it is charred and black on all sides. When a knife or skewer inserted in, goes through smoothly, it is ready. A fellow food blogger, Nikhil Merchant has this excellent tip of making tiny slits in the raw brinjal, inserting a clove of garlic into each slit and then roasting this on the flame. The roasted garlic when mashed along with the eggplant gives a big boost of flavour to the dish.
For kitchens without an open flame cooking system, the oven + grill is the next best option. Slit lengthwise, coat with oil and place cut side down on a baking tray. Keep the tray under the grill / broiler for 15-20 minutes. Another tip to avoid messing up your cooking stove with the skin and juices of the eggplant is to wrap the eggplant in 2-3 layers of heavy duty foil and then place it on the flame, rotating once in a while until the whole vegetable is soft.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: less than 20 minutes
500 grams globe eggplant (2 medium sized)
1 tbsp oil
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 large cloves garlic, crushed, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp dhania-jeera powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp salt
Directly roast the eggplants on the flame until completely charred from all sides. This needs to be monitored to ensure that eggplants are rotated over to all sides and get uniformly charred. A knife can be passed through the eggplant at the end of 7-8 minutes, to check if it is cooked inside. In this case, knife will pass through smoothly, in case eggplant is uncooked inside, you will feel the resistance. Remove the eggplants onto a plate and cover with a large bowl and keep aside.
In 5 minutes, the eggplant will be cool enough to handle, and you can peel off the skins by merely tugging at them. Mash all the flesh, discard the stems and keep aside.
In a heavy bottomed kadai, heat oil.
Add the asafoetida, cumin seeds.
Once cumin seeds splutter, add the ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
Add the finely chopped onions, toss well, sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until onions are soft, around 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the remaining salt, and dry spices, cover and cook until tomatoes are completely soft and mushy. Stir this well.
To this, add the mashed eggplant flesh, around 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer.
Sprinkle garam masala powder towards the end and bring to a final simmer.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with chapatis.
The recipe for Punjabi Baingan Bharta is part of the endeavor to create a collection of recipes of Traditional Indian Cuisines in collaboration with a few bloggers who share the same passion of cooking. Find more Traditional Recipes from Punjab by #TheKichenDivas all April. Follow our Pinterest board where all these recipes can be easily accessed and bookmarked.
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