Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baingan Bharta- Eggplant roast with vegetables

Serves four. Preparation time: 1 hour

1 tbsp oil
2 medium sized round Eggplants (also called Aubergine, Brinjal)
3 green chillies
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds (Rai, Aavalu)
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds (Jheera, Jilakara)
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder to taste
1 big onion chopped fine
2 big tomatoes chopped fine
Handful of chopped cilantro
5 mint leaves
1/2 cup green peas

Roast the whole eggplants until they are done. They are best roasted on coals in a kumpati (traditional portable stove that uses coal), but you can roast over the gas stove too. Keep turning them every few minutes for even roasting, until the outer skin burns black. Some cooks brush oil over the eggplant, but mine got roasted well without oil too. Set aside to cool and remove the skin.
In a pan, heat the oil. Add mustard seeds, let them splutter and add Jheera seeds. Add the onions, green chillies, mint leaves, green peas, turmeric powder, salt and let it cook until the onion browns. Salt draws moisture out of the onions & the green peas get cooked in that moisture. Add the red chilli powder & tomatoes, let it cook until the tomatoes soften into a sauce.
Add the roasted eggplants & mix well, the eggplants get mashed easily into the onoin-tomato-green peas. Switch off the heat. Garnish with cilantro.
This goes well with rice or chapati.

Another easy & healthy way to consume roasted eggplants: Blend some green chillies, salt and a bunch of cilantro, mix in the roasted eggplants & add some tamarind paste. This is the Telugu way of consuming roasted eggplant as a 'banda pacchadi' (literally, a chutney made with stones, meaning that all raw ingredients are crushed using a mortal-pestle without any cooking involved).
Old habits die hard, my mom always prefers her banda pacchadi over this Baingan bharta, but I think both of them taste yummy in their own ways!

I am currently going through a pudina love phase, so experimenting a lot with pudina. This dish tasted lovely with some mint leaves added in, but they are not usually added. Omit them if it doesn't appeal to you. Also, fresh green peas are my eternal favourite so I am always sneaking some into everything, these too can be omitted.
My mother says these roasted eggplants are looking like chicken thanks to the magnified shots, so although she admired the pics, she wasn't very pleased with the meaty look LOL.

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