Easy Baingan Bharta (Oven Roasted Aubergine/Eggplant Curry)
Baingan Bharta is a prized Indian and Pakistani dish. It consists of fire-roasted eggplant in a delicately spiced dry curry. This recipe includes oven and grill instructions, plus some essential tips on how to get it right.
- 2 small globe variety eggplants (about 1000 grams in total)
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 2 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 tsp brown sugar optional
- 1 small green chili pepper sliced or chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp juice of freshly squeezed lemon
- 1/4 tsp garam masala optional
Set your oven rack so that your eggplants will be as close as possible to the heat source. Preheat your broiler on High, and roast the eggplants on a sheet pan for about 30 minutes, turning midway. The skin will blacken and the eggplant will 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, brown sugar (if using), and spice powders (paprika, red chili, turmeric) except the garam masala.
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.