Monday, December 20, 2010

Served With Love's Baigan Bharta

I was looking for another dish to go with my leftover chana masala and remembered reading about Served With Love's version of this great Indian eggplant dish. Though I don't think I've ever eaten or ordered this dish, I've fallen in love with it and will be making it many more times. It's like an Indian ratatouille without the zucchini. I only made very minor changes to the recipe (like skipping the cabbage and using whole canned tomatoes instead of fresh because that's what I had on hand). You can see the original recipe here.

Total time: about 1 hr, 15 min.
Makes 4-6 servings


2 medium eggplants, about 2 1/2 lbs total
vegetable oil
Served with chana masala and basmati rice.
1 Tbsp ghee
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
a pinch of Hing, or Asafoetida powder
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, diced, juices reserved
1 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp grated garlic
1 serrano chili, minced
1/4 C cooked green peas

Dry Masala:
1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 Tbsps chopped scallions, white and pale green parts only

Preheat the broiler. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and smear with vegetable oil, placing the eggplant in a large broiler pan. Broil until skin is charred and the eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes, then put the eggplants in a ziploc bag, seal it, and let steam for about 10 minutes (this make the eggplant easier to peel). Peel the eggplant, scrape out any seeds, and mash the eggplant with the back of a wooden spoon.

In a very large skillet, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. When the crackle, add the hing, garlic, and ginger, and cook until fragrant.  Add the onions and fry until the begin to brown.  Add the tomatoes with juices, chili, and salt to taste.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and some liquid has evaporated.  Then add the dry masala and mix.  

Now add the mashed roasted eggplant and stir until the eggplant gets nicely mixed into the masala. Season with some more salt.  Add the green peas and cook the bharta, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the bharta turns a rich brown color.  Test for seasonings and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Finally, add the chopped scallions, turn off the heat and cover. Let the pale green parts of the onions wilt a bit, then serve.

Note: I forgot to add the hing the first time I made this and I still loved it. If you don't have any, just sprinkle a bit of lemon juice over the bharta at the very end of cooking.

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