This authentic Punjabi Baigan Bharta (Roasted Eggplant Curry) recipe is one I learnt from my grandmother and is very minimalist yet so tasty, that one just can’t stop eating it!
Thankfully, this was one dish I learnt from grandma and today I’m sharing its recipe here. This Punjabi Baigan Bharta will have you asking for more all the time! Even the non eggplant liking people will end up asking for second helpings!
My grandma was what you might call a Baigan Bharta snob and she had every right to be, I guess, she made the best ever Baigan Bharta.
First, there was the matter of the brinjal itself: it had to be deep purple in color, round and big in size but had to be light in weight. The brinjal is the star of this dish and she made all the effort to pick the best one possible. Then came the roasting of the brinjal. If the brinjal wasn’t roasted enough, the flavour was not vibrant enough. This would displease her and if the brinjal was roasted more than required, it would be declared burnt and could not be eaten.
Then would come the issue of color. One look at the bharta was all she needed to declare it good or not good at all. The color had to be reddish with the use of tomatoes and chilli powder, if it was brownish that meant you didn’t put enough tomatoes and it was a mortal sin, according to her.
The spices came in next. The only spice ever allowed to be put in the bharta was jeera seeds (though she preferred to make without), salt and chilli powder. Her point was that the gas-roasted brinjal flavour is what should shine only balanced by the slight crunch of onions and the tang of tomatoes. No haldi, no coriander would ever be allowed to touch the bharta. In winters, she would add the freshly peeled tender peas to the bharta, just before the stove was switched off and let the dish cook in its own heat, turning the bharta into pure joy when eaten with dal and phulka.
Before we go to the recipe, here are some of my favorites which remind me so much of my grandmom!
Baigan Bharta : Roasted Eggplant Curry from Punjab
- 2 eggplants (approx 500gms in weight) Globe
- 5 onions Finely chopped
- 6 tomatoes Finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Peas Fresh (optional)
- 1/2 tsp jeera seeds
- to taste salt
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsps ghee Oil /
- Coat the eggplants with a little oil and roast them directly on the flame until completely charred from all sides. The key is to blacken all sides on the surface and keep rotating the brinjal for even cooking. This will take about 6-7 minutes, poke the brinjal with knife or fork to check if it is done.
- Once the brinjals are done, dip them in a deep bowl filled with water. Leave for 5-10 minutes and then peel off all the blackened skin. Dipping in water makes them easier to peel.
- Mash the flesh using a potato masher, discard the stem, and keep the mashed flesh aside till needed.
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat the ghee and add jeera seeds. When they turn brown, add onions and fry till translucent.
- Add the tomatoes at this stage and cook on low flame, till they are fully cooked. Add salt and chilli powder and mix well. Add the mashed brinjal to it and roast for another 5 minutes. At this stage, add the peas if using. Mix, turn off the gas and cover the pan. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with dal, phulka and green salad.