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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Locy

Baingan "Eggplant" Bharta

Baingan Bharta is one of my favorite Indian dishes! It's smoky, spicy, and full of aromatic spices that stay true to traditional Indian cuisine. If you love Indian food as much as I do, this recipe is a must!

Baingan Bharta is a vegetarian dish that originated in the Punjab region of India. Baingan translates to "eggplant" and Bharta means "mash or puree." Traditionally it involves cooking the eggplant over flames or charcoal in order to char the eggplant. The eggplant is then mashed and sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and an array of spices.

SPICES! Spices have been used as medicine for centuries and there is a reason why! Not only do they add incredible flavor to dishes but they also help a myriad of processes in the human body. Turmeric is the powerhouse spice for decreasing inflammation. Cumin helps strengthen your bones and is actually great for insomniacs. Ginger is well known for its assistance in regulating digestion and decreasing nausea. Chili powder kickstarts your metabolism and contains antioxidants. Garam masala is the last spice in this recipe and is a spice mix. It has cardamom which improves digestion and appetite, cinnamon which regulates blood sugar, coriander which lowers cholesterol, and black pepper which is an antioxidant and increases the bioavailability of the turmeric. Try adding different spices to different dishes to become accustomed to their flavor profiles. This makes the art of spice mixing less daunting.


Eggplant is a very underrated vegetable in my opinion. It is generally overlooked due to many peoples' uncertainty on how to tackle cooking this purple monster. Eggplants are interesting because they tend to have little flavor, so they can take on any flavor you add to them. They are also nutritious of course! Eggplants are a good source of fiber, copper, manganese, pyridoxine (B6), and thiamine (B1). They also contain a group of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body, which as a result, helps reduce the chances of certain chronic illnesses, cancers, and inflammation. So despite the intimidating nature of eggplants, they are superb to add into your diet!

The traditional method of cooking eggplant in Baingan Bharta, as described above, is over a flame. This chars the skin and makes the eggplant smoky. If you have a gas stove or a grill that you would like to use this technique with instead, feel free! The world is your oyster! However, I just bake mine and then put them under the broiler and it works out perfectly. After the eggplants are broiled, put them in a piece of foil to sit and cool. This method helps the skin peel off easier. In the mean time, toast your spices in the olive oil over medium heat to help release more of their flavor. After a couple of minutes, add the onion, garlic, and chili to the pan until their are translucent and aromatic. After about 10-15 minutes, your eggplants should be cool enough to work with. Start peeling!

Once your eggplant is peeled, get ready for an arm workout! Dice the eggplant as small as you can get it before you go in with a potato masher so that it mashes easier. Place eggplant aside. Dice your tomatoes fairly small, add to the onion mixture, and reduce. Add in the eggplant. Once all the veggies are in the pan cooking, add the coconut milk, cilantro, and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer for at least 15 minutes. The longer it cooks, the better it gets!


Serve on a bed of jasmine rice, add more cilantro on top, a piece of garlic naan and you have yourself the perfect Baingan Bharta! Don't forget the chai tea!


Baingan "Eggplant" Bharta

Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 60 min

Cuisine: Indian, Vegan, Gluten-free

Servings: 6 Category: Entrée


2 eggplants, medium (or 1 large)

1 sweet onion, medium, diced

5-6 garlic cloves, minced

1 green chili, minced (optional)

4 plum tomatoes, diced

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ginger, ground powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp olive oil

3/4 cup coconut milk, canned

1 1/2 tsp salt

handful fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish


Serve with: a cup of jasmine rice and garlic naan, this adds ~8.3 grams of protein making the total protein ~10.9 grams for the dish.


Directions


1. Preheat oven to 425°F (~220 °C)

2. Coat eggplant in a drizzle of olive oil and make tiny slits into skin, like you would a potato.

3. Place in baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.

4. Dice onion and mince green chili and garlic. Heat olive oil in pan at medium heat and add in spices to toast.

5. After a couple minutes of toasting the spices, add in onion, green chili, and garlic and sautee until translucent and fragrant.

6. Add in diced plum tomatoes on medium heat until the liquid from the tomatoes is significantly reduced.

7. Once the eggplant has baked, turn on broiler and broil for 14 minutes, flipping half way through so both sides get charred.

8. Take eggplant out and wrap in foil to cool and sweat. **

9. Once the eggplant has cooled enough to handle with your hands, unwrap from foil and peel off the skin.

10. Dispose of the skin and mince the eggplant into small pieces before mashing with a potato masher. **

11. Add the eggplant, coconut milk and cilantro to the pan and simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes so the flavors can combine.

12. Serve on jasmine rice, with garlic naan, more cilantro on top, a cup of warm chai tea, and enjoy!


Notes

** After a few minutes open up the foil a tad to allow some steam to release so the eggplant cools quicker.

** The eggplant does not have to be perfectly pureed, just mashed.


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