A staple in Indian home cooking
In my latest series, I’ve been working to discover just how people around the world eat eggplant. So far, the series has been incredibly fruitful – pun absolutely intended. Thankfully, the streak of delicious dishes doesn’t stop with this next submission. Next up, we’re exploring an Indian eggplant recipe called Baigan Bharta.
This recipe is courtesy of Shivali who decided that Baigan Bharta was one of the first things she wanted to learn when she began cooking. Once you taste this dish, it’ll be easy to understand why it was on the top of her list. In Hindi, “Baigan” means “eggplant,” while “Bharta” translates to “mashed up.” In other words, Baigan Bharta = Eggplant Mash. However, that name doesn’t quite do this recipe justice.
For Baigan Bharta, you’ll begin by slow roasting your eggplant. Traditionally, this step was done over a fire, but you can skip the firewood and charr the eggplant on the stovetop or simply bake in the oven. This process imparts a beautiful smokiness to the eggplant that will take the Baigan Bharta to the next level. Meanwhile, diced onions and tomatoes are sauteed together with mustard seed oil, green chilies, ginger garlic paste, and hing. Also known as asafetida, hing is a special spice in Indian cooking. It’s got a pungent, sulfur-like smell when raw, but it works absolute magic in a dish when it’s cooked. Hing adds that special pop to Indian food, while also lifting and brightening the flavors of other spices and ingredients. Don’t let the sulfur smell talk you into skipping out on hing.
The charred eggplant, cooked tomatoes and onions, and spices are finally all mashed together to create the final dish. Baigan Bharta is usually served as an entree with a side of fresh roti. However, you can also treat this eggplant mash as a side dish or snack, if you’d rather. This eggplant dish is just bursting with so many flavors, but also with so many options. You can enjoy Baigan Bharta as is or get creative and add peas, potatoes, extra vegetables, beans, or even meat. There are infinite mash-up possibilities with this eggplant mash. Don’t hesitate to give Baigan Bharta a try!
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