Baigan Bharta by Masala Mama
This delicious dish of eggplant (baigan) that is mashed (bharta), from North India, is deceptively simple to make. The eggplant is roasted on an open flame to create a unique smoky flavor and then mashed. It is a quintessentially Punjabi dish and a big favorite in our home.
- 2 medium sized eggplants
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium-large red onion, chopped (about 1 heaped cup)
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (blanched and peeled, or peeled using a serrated peeler--see how at http://www.masalamamaspice.com/indian-cooking-ingredients)
- 1-2 hot Indian green chilies, chopped. The more seeds you include, the hotter it will be (if Indian green chili is hard to find, a serrano or jalapeño will work as well)
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about ½ cup)
- Salt to taste
The most important step in this recipe, and the one thing you cannot skip, is the roasting of the eggplant. Here's how Ottolenghi describes it in his book "Plenty":
To cook the eggplants on a gas stovetop, which is the most effective way, start by lining the area around the burners with foil to protect them. Put the eggplants directly on two moderate flames and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don't catch fire. For an electric stove, pierce the eggplants with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot broiler for 1 hour, turning them a few times. The eggplants need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break.
Let it cool slightly and then peel the skin off and discard. Remove the stem at this time as well. Mash the pulp with a fork and keep aside.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons oil in a medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and green chilies and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for another few minutes till soft. Add the mashed eggplant, chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, taste for seasoning and serve hot!