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Authentic Punjabi-style Baingan Bharta Recipe Step by Step


Touted as the king of vegetables in India, baingan or eggplant is one of my family's favourite vegetables. It was first cultivated in India and subsequently introduced to Southeast Asia and China before it made its way to the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world.

It is believed that the Arabs first introduced it to the Mediterranean region in the 9th century. The famous Greek moussaka, French ratatouille, Italian melanzane alla parmigiana or Lebanese Baba ganoush would not be the same without the glorious eggplant!

As many as eight varieties of eggplants are found in India that have been used over the centuries to create an astounding variety of unique regional dishes. Technically a fruit - a type of berry - and not a vegetable, eggplant is amazingly versatile, as it tastes equally good whether it is pan-fried, roasted, steamed, grilled, stuffed or smoked.

Of all the eggplant dishes, Baingan Bharta is my firm favourite, as it is relatively easy to make and its creamy and silky texture and beautiful smoky flavour is truly one of a kind. It's one of those rare Indian dishes in which the actual taste of the vegetable is not masked by the strong flavour of spices. The dish originated in Punjab and has become very popular across the country with subtle regional variations.

In this video, my wife Chetana, who is a fabulous cook, has shared her recipe for making authentic Punjabi-style Baingan Bharta, which we all love and can have any time. Hope you enjoy making and having it as much as we do! 

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour (based on roasting the aubergines in an electric oven)
  • Serves: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines (Brinjals)
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 smallish onions – finely chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste, preferably fresh using 2 to 3 cloves of garlic and 20 grams ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves – to garnish
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds (dhana jeera)
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds for tempering
  • 1 teaspoon dry fenugreek (methi) leaves
  • 3 or 4 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cup green peas (petit pois)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Method  

If you have a gas burner, roast the aubergines on a medium flame until well cooked and the skin has charred completely. If using an electric oven, slit the aubergines in four keeping the tip intact, brush them with sunflower oil and roast them in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (fan) for about 40 minutes. Turn them over halfway through so that they are evenly roasted.

Once roasted, let the aubergines cool down before peeling them and mincing the pulp.

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat and add curry leaves followed by mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to splutter, add the garlic and ginger paste, and the finely chopped onions and sauté them until the onions turn light golden brown.

Add finely chopped tomatoes along with turmeric powder, ground coriander power and salt and a dash of water. Once the tomatoes are soft and mushy add the green peas and let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Keep stirring from time to time and add a bit of water if the curry becomes too dry.

Once the green peas are cooked, add the minced aubergines along with garam masala powder, cumin powder and crushed fenugreek leaves. Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes.  

Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve with Indian flatbread.

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