If there’s one dish that makes my mouth water when I just think about it, it’s baingan bharta. This is an amazingly delicious dish with a real moreish flavour, tasty hot or cold.
The trick to this dish is to get a smoky, charred flavour into the aubergine before cooking it. This can be achieved in a few ways, some of which may be a bit of a challenge in Hong Kong – that is, if you have a ceramic induction hob like me! Ideally, an open-gas flame is fantastic. All you need to do is get your aubergine over the fire and turn it until the skin is charred to perfection. Alternatively, you can pop it onto a hot grill and keep turning it until the skin is charred. However, if these options are not available to you, I suggest popping it into the microwave or steaming it until it’s soft and the skin is easy to scrape off. If you can get ahold of some smoked paprika, a teaspoon of that during the cooking process, as mentioned in my recipe below, will do the trick!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 2 large aubergines
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 3–4 tbsp olive oil
- 4–5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5–7cm piece fresh ginger, crushed
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1–2 small green chillies, sliced finely
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
- juice of ½ lemon
- salt, to taste
- Roast the aubergines in the oven until they’re well charred or pop them into the microwave for 5–8 minutes, until they soften and collapse. Leave to cool.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the sliced onion until it’s nearly brown. This might take some time to do on medium heat. Be careful not to burn it!
- Once the onion is brown, add the chopped tomato, crushed garlic and ginger and salt. Stir together for 3–4 minutes.
- Scoop out the insides of the aubergines and scrape off any remaining skin. Add to the onion mixture and mix together.
- Leave to cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. Give the mixture a stir every 5 minutes or so, mashing together with a wooden spoon. The aubergine flesh should become smoother, almost glutinous, and will change to a darker toffee shade.
- Once oil appears on the top, mix in the smoked paprika, green chilli and half the freshly chopped coriander.
- Finally, add the lemon juice and give the whole mixture a good, vigorous stir with a wooden spoon and then garnish with the rest of the freshly chopped coriander.
- Serve piping hot with rice or naan. This dish also works well served cold as a spread on bread or crackers.
- Baingan bharta can be frozen in an airtight container or kept in the fridge for up to a week.
- It’s lovely served with dhal and steamed basmati rice.
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