April 01, 2009
Baigan Ka Bartha/ Roasted and Mashed Eggplant...
I would love to know where baigan ka bhartha originated.. was it in India or in the Arab and Mediteranean lands? It has a very unappetizing name, meaning "mashed eggplant", but more colloquially the term "bartha" is used to connote "a mess" or a "mishmash".."or everything mixed in together".
It's the similarity in the eggplant preparation that made me curious. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines have similar recipes of eggplant that is roasted and then mashed and seasoned. They have the baba ganoush, roasted eggplant salads, roasted eggplant dip, Greek Eggplant Dip, another dip from Romania and so on.
Our humble badly named bhartha is eaten with chapathi...is it used as a dip? Well, if you notice, we scoop up the bhartha with the chapathis similar to the pita with the dip.. So are they long lost cousins from a Persian invasion?
We like eggplants in any form...fried as a pakoda, baked in layers with other stuff, pureed, or sliced, marinated with red chili powder and turmeric and deep fried, and sometimes even as a side dish. In that case, this is my first go to recipe.
Season this any way you like, but this is the basic recipe that I follow. The eggplant is bland with just a smokey flavor so is open to any kind of interpretation. You can make it more tomotoey, more tangy with more spices if you want to. My Bombayite friend just roasts it and adds fresh raw chopped cilantro, green chilies and onions and gives it a seasoning of cumin in Ghee. That tastes good too. But then I like eggplant in any form.:)
You Will Need:
The Big 2 pound Sized Eggplant -1
Red Onion - 1 finely diced
Medium sized Tomato -1 finely diced
Ginger Garlic Paste - 1 tbsp( use fresh paste or finely chopped)
Hot Green chilies - 4 chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Red Chili Powder -1/4 tsp (adjust with the spice of the green chilies)
Coriander Powder -1/2 tsp
Garam Masala Powder -1/8 tsp
Jeera Seeds -1/2 tsp
Chopped Coriander/Cilantro leaves - 2-3 tbsp for garnish
Lemon Juice - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp approx.
1. Preheat the oven to the broiler setting. Wash the eggplant, wipe it dry and place it on a foil lined baking tray right under the broiler in your oven. Bake it for 10-12 minutes, turning it over once so that the outer skin gets burnt all around evenly. The roasting can be done over a gas flame too, turning continuously..but it gets quite messy. Or you could even cook it by microwaving for 5 mts but then you don't get the smokey flavor.
2. Wrap the eggplant in the foil and allow it to cool. Then remove the outer skin. Mash the eggplant well and keep it aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and toss in the cumin seeds. Add the onions,green chillies and saute well till the onions start tuning brown only at the edges. Add the ginger garlic paste. Mix and saute and then add the red chili powders, turmeric and coriander powder. Fry it well. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and the mashed eggplant. Cook on medium low heat for 5-10 minutes, taking care not to let it stick to the pan. Stir once in a while. The color slowly changes from the greyish brown to a deeper brown. If the onions were fried too much then the gravy would start turning a darker brown. Add the lemon juice in the end just to balance the flavors. If the tomatoes are sour, you may not need lemon juice at all. Add the garam masala and cilantro leaves and check for salt.