Did you know that organic eggplants are highly sustainable with low water and carbon footprints? And as long as no pesticides are used, they cause no significant damage to air, water, land, soil, forests, etc. If you are trying to go vegan or eat and cook more consciously, this is a great vegetable to incorporate into your cooking. They are also delicious, inexpensive, and one of the most versatile vegetables to cook with.
South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines have thousands of easy eggplant recipes, and I love them all, but baingan ka bharta and eggplant fritters are my favorites.
How to buy eggplants
When buying, be sure to pick eggplants that are heavy for their size, and have smooth and shiny skin with uniform color. To test for ripeness, lightly press a finger against the skin. If it leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ripe. Avoid eggplants that are wrinkled or have blemishes, bruises, or tan patches. You want to choose smaller eggplants for most recipes as they tend to be sweeter, less bitter, have thinner skin, and fewer seeds. However, for baingan ka bharta I prefer large eggplants. And try to buy organic whenever possible.
How to roast eggplants
I always make eggplant bharta in oven. But my mom prefers to roast them over live fire, on stovetops, which definitely gives the eggplant a more smoky flavor. But the oven method saves a lot of time, imo. I like to pop it in for one hour under high broil setting. Whichever way you roast it, be sure to make a few incisions to allow even cooking. I also like to stick a few garlic cloves through the incisions for more intense flavors. 🙂
How to make baingan ka bharta?
Baingan ka Bharta or Roasted Eggplant
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 bell pepper roasted and chopped
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 4-6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 2 green chilies chopped
- 1 tomato chopped
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves/cilantro chopped
- Roast eggplant and bell pepper in the oven or over stovetop until charred and soft. Peel the skin off the eggplant, and mash with a fork.
- Heat oil in a large pan.
- Add cumin seeds and garlic.
- Once they start to splutter, add chopped onions, sugar, and cumin powder and saute until slightly browned.
- Add chilies and tomato and cook until the tomatoes are soft.
- Now add roasted bell peppers and roasted eggplant, adjust salt and continue to cook for 6-7 more minutes.
- Turn off heat, sprinkle cilantro and serve hot with roti, tortilla, parantha or rice.
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