Baingan/ Brinjal/ Eggplant/ Aubergine. You either love it or you hate it!
I love it, especially when it’s made into a bharta which essentially means a mash. But even then, I’m a snob when it comes to Bharta appreciation. A good Baingan ka bharta has to be cooked properly and does not skimp on the onions and tomatoes. It’s just not a dish for the lazy cook.
But that does not mean that it’s a complex recipe. It just requires some patience for letting the brinjal cook slowly. A perfect Punjabi style bharta would take at least an hour from start to finish.
So here’s how you do it.
2 tablespoons Cooking oil
3 large Brinjals (Eggplant)
4 big tomatoes- chopped
4 onions- chopped
2 inches piece of Ginger- finely chopped
1 cup Green peas (thawed, if using frozen peas)
salt to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Coriander leaves – chopped
Wash all the vegetables.
Chargrill the brinjals (with their skin on) on an open flame on your stove. You can also use an oven or a microwave but the charred skin which is a result of cooking on an open flame imparts an amazing smoky flavour to the bharta.
Cook the brinjals by turning them occasionally ensuring that they are cooked on all sides. You can use long tongs or the stick of the brinjals to hold on to for turning. Once they are cooked, the skin will turn black, flaky and wrinkly.
Keep the brinjals aside till they cook down.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the onions. Keep the chop medium in size. Do the same with the tomatoes. Do a fine chop for the ginger next. Keep these veggies aside.
The brinjals would have cooled by now and needs to be peeled and washed now. Start picking the skin gently with your fingers. You can let the stems be in the brinjal as they impart a chunky texture to the bharta. Once the brinjal is peeled, you can wash it with some clean water to remove any peel flakes left. Drain and keep aside.
In a heavy bottom kadhai, pour cooking oil. I used mustard oil here. If you are using mustard oil be sure to heat it till there’s smoke coming out of the oil. Once heated, add the onions. Cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat. Next, add the chargrilled brinjal followed by salt and red chilli powder. Stir it in with the onions and cook till you see the brinjal break down from it’s shape and become one big mass. This should take another 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
Next add the ginger, tomatoes and green peas. Stir them in and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
You may think that the brinjal doesn’t require too much cooking since it’s already chargrilled, but it actually needs to be cooked with the onions and tomatoes for at least 10 minutes to deepen the flavour of the vegetables.
Turn the heat to low for this, stir occasionally and let the bharta cook till you see the oil separate on the sides.
Sprinkle some garam masala and some chopped coriander leaves on top and the perfect Baingan ka bharta is ready!
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