Fire Roasted Eggplant (Baingan Bhartha)
Smoked eggplant is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and is fun to make, although it might make a small mess on your stove! The eggplant, also known as brinjal in India, is roasted directly over the open flame on a gas stovetop. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could roast the eggplant under an oven broiler or cook it on an outdoor grill. If you use an oven broiler, it is not as messy, but you will not get the smoky taste that comes from cooking directly over an open flame. This dish can be served with Indian Naan bread or as an appetizer along with lightly toasted wedges of pita bread. When serving this dish, one lucky person will get the stem of the eggplant which they can enjoy by sucking on it to get all the cooked eggplant flesh out from it!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes if using a gas stove
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted eggplant in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically.
1 large eggplant, globe variety (about 1 lb/500 g)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus 1 extra teaspoon oil if using an oven)
1 small onion, diced
1 fully ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt
1. If you’re using a gas stove to roast the eggplant, place aluminum foil under a large burner to make clean-up easier. Wash and dry the eggplant. Place the eggplant directly on the gas burner on high heat. Using tongs, frequently turn the eggplant to make sure all sides are evenly cooked, about 8 minutes. When done, the eggplant will become very soft and mushy. The skin will be charred, and it will have collapsed in on itself. Also, some liquid will be coming out of it during the cooking process, which will be caught by the foil. Remove from the heat and let cool. Discard the foil.
2. If you’re using your oven to roast the eggplant, preheat the broiler to high. Wash and dry the eggplant. Rub 1 teaspoon of the oil on the eggplant so it will not dry out while cooking. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet on the highest rack possible near the broiler and turn frequently until the eggplant is evenly charred and the flesh is soft and mushy, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. Using your fingers, peel the skin off the eggplant and discard. After you have removed the skin, hold the eggplant over your sink by the stem with one hand. Wet your other hand and very gently grab the eggplant and run your wet hand down it to help take off any small remaining bits of skin.
4. Place the eggplant in a shallow dish. Holding the eggplant by the stem, use a potato masher to mash the eggplant flesh and break it apart. (The stem will become separated from the eggplant flesh. Do not discard the stem.)
5. Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the onion. Sauté until the onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.
6. Add the tomato. Cook until the tomato pieces become soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the mashed eggplant (including the stem and the juices), red pepper and salt. Stir to combine. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Serve the eggplant on a platter, along with the stem, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!
On the Grill: Wash and dry the eggplant. Heat a grill on medium-high heat. When the grill is heated, place the eggplant directly on the grill rack. Close the grill, and check back every 5 minutes to turn the eggplant. Cook for a total of 20 minutes with the grill closed. Cook until all four sides of the eggplant are soft and mushy. Remove from grill and let cool. Continue with steps 3 to 7.
Recipe from "Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People" by Shubhra Ramineni. Reprinted with the express permission of Tuttle Publishing, a member of the Periplus Publishing Group. www.enticewithspice.com
Copyright 2011-2016 Shubhra Ramineni. All rights reserved.