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. Now, 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 min
Cooking time: 40 min
- 2 large aubergine
- 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 aubergine in the oven until it’s well charred or pop it into the microwave for 5–8 min, until it softens and collapses. Leave to cool.
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the sliced onion until nearly brown. This may 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 min.
- Scoop out the insides of the aubergine and scrape off any remaining skin. Add it to the onion mixture and mix together.
- Leave to cook on medium heat for 30 min. Give it a stir ever 5 min or so and mash together with a wooden spoon. The aubergine should become smoother, almost glutinous, and will change to a darker toffee shade.
- Once oil appears at the top, mix in the smoked paprika, green chilli(es) and half the freshly chopped coriander.
- Finally, add the lemon juice and give the whole mixture a good, vigorous mix with a wooden spoon and then garnish with the rest of the freshly chopped coriander.
- Serve piping hot with rice or naan. It also works well served cold as a spread on bread or crackers.
- The baingan bharta can be frozen in an airtight container or kept in the fridge for up to a week.
- It can be served with tarka dhal and steamed basmati rice.
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