This easy Baingan Bharta (Smoked Eggplant/Aubergine Curry) recipe uses your oven to achieve the smoky flavor of authentic Baingan Bharta. This recipe includes step-by-step pictures and a quick video tutorial. Tested to perfection!
Baingan Bharta – Smoky, Oven-Roasted Eggplant Curry
Baingan Bharta, translated to mashed eggplant, is a smoky eggplant (aubergine) curry popular in Indian and Pakistani (particularly Punjabi) cuisine.
Traditionally, our ancestors would roast eggplants over an open fire or in a tandoor to get the skin charred all around. But you don’t need an open fire or even a grill. You can achieve the same, smoky flavor using your oven!
Out of all the vegetarian curry recipes on my blog, this Baingan Bharta is my husband’s favorite. Yes, even more than Zucchini curry which is, you know, his recipe.
A Few Notes on the Ingredients
- Eggplants – Select small-ish ones around 1000 g in total. Also, try to choose eggplants that seems light for their size. Those are the ones with fewer seeds and therefore less bitterness.
- Ghee and Oil – I love mixing both to get the fluidity of the oil and taste of ghee.
- Spices – Too many spices can clutter the remarkable smoky flavor, so I like to keep them to a minimum.
- Green chili pepper – Adding the green chili pepper toward the end keeps its aroma and adds a little extra of heat. Both Thai green chili peppers or Serrano would work, though sometimes Serrano can be too strong and spicy to add at the end.
How to roast eggplant in the oven for Baingan Bharta
Not only does broiling deepen the flavor of the eggplants, but it’s the easiest and most hands-off way to achieve the smoky flavor of Baingan Bharta. Here’s how to do it:
- Set your oven rack so that your eggplants will be as close as possible to the heat source.
- Poke holes in multiple places to allow the steam to escape. I always thought pricking or poking holes in the eggplant was an unnecessary step until I had an eggplant explode on me (hard-won lesson).
- Preheat your oven’s broiler on High (550 degrees F/287 C). Roast the eggplants on a sheet pan for about 30 minutes, turning midway. Broiling the eggplant until it’s completely soft on the inside with burnt skin on the outside gives it the distinct, smoky, oomph factor of baingan bharta. Toward the end, there will be a smoky aroma coming from the oven.
How to peel the skin off broiled eggplant
The biggest tip is make sure to get as much eggplant flesh as possible close to the skin. (That golden brown char is precious.) Don’t worry if some of the bits of black skin remain in the eggplant. This process is a bit messy but very well worth it!
The eggplant will be easy to peel in some places, where the skin is more burnt and pulled away from the flesh. Where possible, peel the broiled skin from the eggplant rather than scoop.
How to make this Easy Baingan Bharta
Once you’ve broiled and peeled the eggplants, use a food processor to mash them. Of course, you can also use a fork or potato masher to do this.
Next, prepare a quick and simple onion and tomato masala base. Sauté the onions, then add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and spices.
After that, add the mashed eggplants and green chili pepper. Stir-fry until the eggplant is fully incorporated and the oil starts to separate from the curry. Garnish and you’re done!
More Tips for cooking Baingan Bharta
- After adding the mashed eggplant to the curry, sauté again to full incorporate. You’ll know it has finished cooking when you start to see the oil separate from the curried eggplant.
- Mashed eggplant absorbs a fair amount of oil. After sautéing, if you still don’t see the oil separating, add another 1-2 tablespoon of oil.
- Since the size and density of eggplants will vary, I’ve given the starting point for salt. If you feel that something is missing, try adding a bit more salt.
How to Serve Baingan Bharta
Since eggplant is a ‘warming’ food, it pairs really well with cooling sides. I almost always serve baingan bharta with yogurt on the side.
More Vegan and Vegetarian Curry Recipes to try
If you try it, be sure and let me know in the comments or on Instagram. And don’t forget to grab your free e-book for more tried and tested dinner recipes.
Easy Baingan Bharta (Oven Roasted/Broiled Eggplant Curry)
- 2 small eggplants (globe variety) (around 1000 grams in total)
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 2-3 tbsp neutral oil such as canola or grapeseed
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/2- inch piece ginger crushed
- 2 small tomatoes finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp heaped salt or more to taste
- 1 tsp paprika powder regular or smoked
- 1/2 red chili powder or more to taste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 small green chili pepper (such as Thai or Serrano) sliced or chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp juice of freshly squeezed lemon
- 1/4 tsp garam masala optional
To Roast the Eggplant in the Oven
- Set your oven rack so that your eggplants will be as close as possible to the heat source. Use a fork or knife to poke holes throughout the eggplant to prevent it from bursting in the oven.
- Preheat your broiler on High (550 degrees F/287 C). Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Roast the eggplants for about 30 minutes, turning midway. The skin will blacken and the eggplant may burst a little.
- Once the eggplant cools down (you can place it in a bowl of water to speed this up) peel the blackened skin, remove the stem and coarsely mash its flesh. I like to do this using the "pulse" function of my food processor. Set aside.
To Make the Curry
- Heat ghee and oil in a skillet a little over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. They will start to sputter. Immediately add the onion and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until slightly golden. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté until the raw smell disappears, or about 20 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook until they're soft and the oil starts to leave the sides, about 5 minutes. Add a bit of water (if needed so the spices don't get burnt) and add the salt, paprika, red chili, and turmeric.
- Add the mashed eggplant and green chili peppers and cook, stirring often, until it is well cooked and becomes mushy like a purée, about 8-10 minutes. Taste and add oil, salt or paprika (for more color) as needed.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the chopped cilantro leaves. Sprinkle lemon juice and garam masala over it. Serve with naan, roti or other bread. I like to eat it with some yogurt on the side to add some coolness to the dish.