Burning baingan bharta

Mallika Basu - Burning baingan bharta

Posted 2nd July 2007

img_7138.jpgHubby and I woke up at the crack of dawn this weekend, taking an overland train to the middle-of-nowhere to collect our new car.

As I picked split ends in the back seat, the car dealer talked him though car controls, insurance and bodywork.


In the house I was back in form, making a last minute meal for my friend who was visiting for lunch. I chose baingan bharta, a roasted aubergine mash with a smokey spicy flavour.

As the aubergines roasted on an open flame – messy but tantalisingly aromatic – my husband dashed into the study to tell me the aubergines were on fire.

Nothing like a bit of comedy relief.

The only tricky part about this recipe is making sure the aubergines are roasted evenly so that the crispy charred skin just falls off when you try to peel it.

I tend to make this when I entertain small groups of people so that I’m not roasting and peeling aubergines all day! Try it with a raita and some pulao for a simply delightful vegetarian meal.

This recipe serves 4:

2 large whole aubergines

6 cloves garlic

2 inches ginger

2 medium tomatoes

2 medium onions

12.5 gm fresh coriander

3 green chillies

Salt to taste

3 tbsp sunflower oil

Turn the flame up on high on two cooker hobs. Place an aubergine on each hob to roast. In the meantime, cut the garlic, ginger, onions and chillies into little pieces, quarter the tomatoes and finely chop the coriander.

Keep turning the aubergines using tongs so that they roast evenly. When the skin chars and splits they are ready to be turned.

When the aubergines are evenly burnt, take them off the flame and leave to cool.

Now bring a large pot with the oil to heat on a high flame. When smoking hot add the onion, ginger and garlic and fry until pale brown. If the mixture starts sticking to the bottom, add a little hot water and stir vigorously to release it.

Then add the chopped tomatoes, coriander and chillies. Fry for five minutes until the tomatoes disintegrate.

Lower the heat to a simmer and peel the aubergines. The skin will just fall off, and where it doesn’t, use a sharp knife to tease it away.

Add the two aubergines to the pot and mash it into the masala mixture. Raise the flame to medium and add salt now to taste. With a wooden spoon, keep stirring to make sure there are no lumps in the aubergine and that the masalas are evenly distributed.

Leave to cook for another 10 minutes until a taste test fires up your senses. This spicy recipe is great served alongside chicken tangri kebabs or some hot rotis.

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