Mashed Indian Eggplant (Baingan Bharta)
This Mashed Indian Eggplant (Baingan Bharta or Baingan ka Bharta) may be one of the easiest Indian recipes that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or cooking. Mashed eggplant/aubergine is cooked with garlic, onions, ginger, Indian spices, and chopped tomatoes. Serve it as part of a vegetarian meal or as an appetizer with naan bread.
The humble eggplant (which in my opinion does not have a lot of flavor) is fire-roasted and transformed into one of the most flavorful eggplant dish that could rival most Indian restaurants. If you’re one of the eggplant haters (I’m not a hater, I just don’t love eggplant), this Indian recipe will convert, I promise!
This Baingan Bharta recipe hails from the Punjab state in North India. “Baingan” is Hindi for eggplant/aubergine, and “bharta” means to mash.
Indian spice combination
You can create many flavor variations depending on the spice mix. This easy Baingan Bharta gets its best flavor from spices like turmeric powder, cumin powder, and garam masala. Additionally, this eggplant bharta gets its spice from Kashmiri and Indian red chili powder, along with green chilies (which can be jalapeño or serrano peppers). The spice level is up to you.
You probably have all the spices in your spice rack, except for the Kashmiri. This can be found in Indian stores or simply ordered from Amazon.
The first step is to cut slits into the skin and flesh, then place garlic cloves inside each slit. This imparts garlic flavor into the eggplant and softens them so they can be mashed.”
A unique way to cook eggplant/aubergine:
The whole eggplant is cooked over an open flame, imparting a slightly smoky flavor to the eggplant flesh as it cooks. The more charred skin, the smokier the flavor. Note: I prefer not to cover the skin in oil before charring, as it creates more smoke. This step can also be done on an outdoor grill or in the oven under the broiler (oven grill in the U.K.), or roast the eggplant in the oven, which won’t impart as much of a smoky aroma unless the skin is charred.
Optional additions to Punjabi Baingan Bharta
Peas. They can be fresh or frozen.
Serving Spiced Indian Eggplant Mash
My favorite way to serve it is like an Indian chutney with Warm Naan Bread or roti (I also have a recipe for gluten-free naan bread). I also like it as a side for Tandoori Chicken, or as a vegetarian meal with Vegetable Basmati Rice.