Indians love Eggplant. There are probably many reasons for that – the hearty texture stands up to all the spices and creates something very satisfying indeed. It also takes on many different flavors and transforms itself into different dishes.
Following is a classic Punjabi recipe that is very easy to make and can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature. In other words, make a lot and enjoy for a few days.
Bharta (Smoky Eggplant with fresh Herbs)
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup shelled peas (fresh or frozen), cooked (optional)
3 tbs. vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped fresh ripe tomatoes (or canned)
2 green chilies, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves
Roast the eggplant:
Stand the eggplant on a burner of a gas stove, stem side up, over a low flame until the bottom of the eggplant is thoroughly charred (about 5 minutes). Now lay the eggplant on its side, and roast, turning it every minute with a pair of tongs until it is fully charred and very soft (about 15-20 minutes). When fully cooked, the eggplant will be quite limp, the skin blistered, and the juices beginning to ooze out. It can also be roasted on a baking sheet in the middle of a preheated 500 degree oven for 20 minutes, but it will not develop quite the right smoky flavor.
Let the eggplant cool briefly. Remove the charred skin. Place the eggplant in a small bowl. Then chop the pulp coarsely with a knife. Chop hard lumps fine. Set aside.
In a sauté pan heat the oil over a medium-high heat, preferably one with a non-stick surface. When the oil is hot, add garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring for a minute. Add onions and salt, and fry until they are light golden — do not let them brown — (about 4 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent burning. Reduce heat to medium, add eggplant and cook for an additional 8 minutes, stirring often.
Add tomatoes and chilies, and continue cooking until the eggplant and tomatoes are fried (about 10 minutes). Add peas and cook until a glaze forms on the puree (about 5 minutes). Just before serving, fold in chopped coriander.
Serve this as an appetizer on mini pappadums or as a part of a meal with roti.
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, use as many eggplants as you like and just increase the other ingredients.
This dish keeps very well for a few days in the refrigerator.
What is your favorite way to cook eggplant?
Until I eat again!