Baingan Ka Bharta
Baingan Ka Bharta – Smoky Eggplant Curry with mint and cumin yogurt
– 2 large Eggplant
– ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
– 1 large onion, finely sliced
– 3 medium size tomatoes, diced
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– 1 green chilli, finely sliced
– 2 tbs coriander stalks, finely chopped + 2 tbs coriander leaves, chopped
– 1 tbs coriander leaves (for end)
– 2 tbs lemon juice
– 1 tsp mustard seeds, ground
– 1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
– 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
– ½ tsp ground turmeric
– ½ tsp crushed chilli flakes
– 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
– salt to taste
– Chopped coriander leaves and sliced green chilli, for garnish
Mint and Cumin Yogurt:
– 1 cup plain yogurt (preferably, greek style)
– 1 tsp cumin, lightly toasted and ground
– 1 tsp of dried mint, crushed.
– Salt to taste
Smoking the Eggplant :
There are two ways of smoking the eggplant:
i) Flame Method: Put the entire eggplant on a high naked flame and leave it till it is soft. By this stage, the outside will be completely blistered and black (this is where the smoky flavour will come from).
ii) Tava method (this is the method I used when the judges came and saw me cook in my house, it’s a bit unconventional): Cut the eggplant in half and place both halves flat side down on the tava. Now cover the tava with a steel bowl, it should be big enough to put nicely over the eggplants so that no heat escapes. This will form a make shift oven. Alternatively, you could place your eggplants in an oven until they are soft on the inside however, your eggplants will not have the smoky flavour that makes this curry so special. With the tava method, the side touching the tava will be completely burnt by the time the eggplant softens and will provide the smoky flavour.
– Once the eggplants are soft, let them cool a little before peeling off the burnt edges and scoop out the soft eggplant goodness from the inside. Make sure you don’t get any of the burn bits.
Making the curry and Cumin Yogurt:
1) Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and cook onions until they are soft and have started taking on a bit of colour.
2) Add spices plus sliced green chilli to saucepan and cook for a minute or until fragrant.
3) Add tomato paste and stir until combined. Now add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine. Add lemon juice, sugar, 2 tbs coriander stalks (finely chopped) and 2 tbs coriander leaves. Lower the heat slightly and let the tomato mixture simmer for at least 10 mins or until the tomatoes have nicely softened and the oil has started to separate.
– Prepare the yogurt in this time: whisk the yogurt, stir through the cumin and mint. Season to taste and set aside.
4) Once the tomatoes have softened and the oil has separated from the mixture, add the eggplant pulp and 1tbs chopped coriander leaves and stir to combine. Keep mixture on heat for 5-6 minutes to heat the eggplant through and help it combine with tomato mixture.
5) Add salt and taste for seasoning.
6) Remove from heat and add garnish. Serve with hot rotis and a mint and cumin yogurt for a complete meal.