Baingan Bharta (Mashed Aubergine/Eggplant Curry)

This one is a requested dish and with aubergine in season in NZ, I thought it was a great request.  Aubergine is called a number of things around the world (Eggplant/Baingan/Brinjal/Guinea Squash etc) but I like aubergine for no reason other than I like the sound of the word.  This is a really simple sabzi (vegetable curry) that draws a lot of its flavour from the way the aubergine is cooked.  The best way to cook it is over a grill of white hot coals to crisp the skin and give the aubergine a smoky flavour.  However, the weather wasn’t playing ball today, so I cooked mine under the grill [broiler].  Hope you like it!

Ingredients:

IMG_18411 aubergine (more if you like the taste!)
2 medium sized onions, chopped
2 fresh chillies (or to taste), chopped or julienned
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2cms of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp smoked paprika (or chilli powder, if you like yours hotter)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
3 tsp ground coriander
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for cooking (mustard oil is best, but any vegetable oil is fine)

Method: 

IMG_1843Start by pricking the skin of your aubergine with a fork

IMG_1847Place your aubergine straight onto a grill with some hot coals (best way to get a smoky flavour) or under your oven grill [broiler].  If you have a gas cooktop you can even cook it straight on the gas flames.  Leave till the skin is crisp to the touch – keep turning to make sure it’s cooked on all sides.  Everyone’s grill will be different, but mine took about 20 mins to cook completely.

IMG_1848While your aubergine is cooking, grab a wok or kadai and fry your onions, garlic and ginger in some oil on a medium heat.  Keep frying for about 4-5 minutes until your onions are soft, but not brown.  This dish doesn’t have a lot of texture, so you need to find some bite from somewhere – if you cook your onions right, they can maintain their texture but not have the sharpness of raw onions.

IMG_1849Prepare your chillies while your onions are cooking.  If you like your dish hot, then chop 2 chillies with all the seeds, pith and flesh.  If you want a medium heat, then take out the seeds and pith (they’re the hottest part).  If you want it mild (but still some flavour) then 1/2-1 chilli without seeds and pith will set your right.  Each chilli has a different heat [Scoville] rating, so make sure you’re not overdoing or underdoing the heat.

IMG_1850After 3-4 mins of your onions frying, add in all your spices and chilli and stir to combine.

IMG_1851When your onions are coated in the spices add in your tomatoes.  This is also the time to season your dish to your taste.  Mix all the elements together and allow it to gently simmer.

IMG_1852Awesome, my aubergine is ready…I know it’s ready, because it’s crispy on the outside and…

IMG_1853When I press it with the back of my fork, it feels mushy on the inside.  If I pressed much harder, the skin will give way.

IMG_1855Peel your aubergine by cutting off the top and bottom and pulling the skin back with your fingers.  You can wait for the aubergine to cool down, first, or just on with it because, like me, you’re hungry.

IMG_1856Traditionally you’d mash the flesh at this stage, but I prefer to roughly chop it…

IMG_1857Then place it in with the other ingredients in the wok/kadai, and mix vigorously so the aubergine flesh breaks apart.  Too mashed, and it gives the texture of baby food, in my mind, so a little bit of body doesn’t hurt.

IMG_1862Serve with some roti or naan, a large dollop of raita, and basmati rice.  Enjoy!

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