Almost exactly a month ago I was reeling under the onslaught of eggplant from my plot at the community garden and trying to come up with new ways/variations to cook it all. On this particular occasion I started out to make a variation on baingan bharta but things went off track fast. First, I was feeling too lazy to roast the eggplant. So I figured I’d make a version of the recipe I posted last week, for baingan-zeera masala. As I started to make the masala though I kept adding things willy nilly, almost a bit deliriously. These kinds of experiments can often end badly but wouldn’t you know it, this came out rather well: rich texture and big, bold flavour. The only problem was what to call it. Since I’d started out to make baingan bharta, and since the texture of the finished dish was not a million miles from that of bharta, I figured I’d call it that. But as it’s so far away from the canonical versions of the dish I normally think of as baingan bharta, I’ve put bharta in quotes here. If even that seems wrong to you, you can call it what you like. But do make it. I am pretty sure that if you like baingan/eggplant you will agree that it’s very good.
- 1.5 lbs long eggplant, cut into thick disks
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 1 tspn freshly crushed garlic
- 1 tspn freshly crushed ginger
- 3/4 tspn haldi
- 1 tspn red chilli powder
- The following ground together into a coarse powder: 2 tspns zeera/cumin, 1 tspn coriander seed, 3/4 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds, 1 tspn white sesame seeds, 1 tspn poppy seeds, 3 tblspns dessicated coconut
- 1.5 cups chopped tomato
- 1 tspn jaggery/dark brown sugar
- 1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup water, fresh off the boil
- Neutral oil of choice
- 1 tblspn chopped chives for garnish
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a deep pan or karhai or similar.
- When the oil shimmers add the chopped onion and saute, stirring often till softened and beginning to brown around the edges.
- Add the crushed ginger and garlic and saute till the raw aroma is gone.
- Add the cut up eggplant, mix in and saute, stirring constantly till the peel begins to change colour.
- Add the salt, haldi and red chilli powder and the ground masala, mix in thoroughly and saute for another minute or two, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomato, mix in and saute, stirring often till the tomato has broken down completely.
- Add the jaggery and balsamic vinegar and mix in.
- Add the hot water, mix in, bring to a high simmer and cover the pan.
- Let it cook covered over medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes or till the eggplant is at the texture you like.
- Uncover the pan, stir, garnish with the chopped chives and serve with dal and chapatis or rice.
- If you don’t have long eggplant you can use diced globe eggplant.
- I’ve made this with hot chiili powder and with mild Deggi mirch/chilli powder. It’s good either way.
- Yes, there’s a Reel.