Air fryer eggplant (begun bhaja) step-by-step recipe with photos.
About this recipe
Begun bhaja or fried eggplant is an easy-to-make Bengali side dish made with just 4 ingredients (including salt). This delicious eggplant dish pairs very well with your meals. They are traditionally shallow fried but here, I am making them in an air fryer. This way, they soak way less oil and are a healthier alternative without compromising on the taste.
This air fryer eggplant is gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto-friendly, paleo-friendly, dairy-free, nut-free - making it suitable for any of your dietary requirements. Enjoy it with rice and dal or pair it with dalia khichdi for a perfect meal.
The classic version of fried eggplant is seasoned using just salt and turmeric. Read on for variations, tips, and FAQs to make this super easy side dish.
Eggplant: Use large, oval eggplant with shiny and glossy skin. Read the FAQs below to see how to select the eggplant.
Oil: I use olive oil to make them. However, it can be replaced with any cooking oil of your choice.
Salt and turmeric: The eggplant slices are seasoned with salt and turmeric.
Wash and pat dry the eggplant. Cut them into ¼-inch discs (step 1). Transfer them to a bowl and add turmeric powder and salt (step 2).
Add oil and rub them well making sure all the slices are coated (steps 3,4).
Brush a few drops of oil on the air fryer basket (step 5). Place the eggplant slices in a single layer (step 6).
Air fry for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye out after 7-8 minutes (steps 7,8).
The recipe I am sharing here is the classic version and uses just salt and turmeric as seasoning. Here are some delicious variations you can add to give it a twist.
Spicy: Make a spicy version of these chips by tossing the classic chips in some chili powder or pepper.
Tandoori masala: Add 1 teaspoon of tandoori masala to give it a smoky flavor.
Chili lime: Toss some chili powder with the seasoning and add lime juice just before serving to make a spicy-tangy version.
Rice flour: Add 1-2 tablespoons of rice flour along with other seasonings. This will create a crunchy coating on the eggplants. Make sure to rub the rice flour well and there are no dry bits. Adding 1 tablespoon extra oil will ensure the eggplant slices are well coated.
Cut the eggplants into even-sized discs to ensure they are cooked at the same time. You may also cut them into thick fingers similar to fries.
It is important to preheat the air fryer for 2 minutes before brushing the oil. Do not skip this step. Preheating will ensure the eggplant slices do not stick to the basket.
Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer and air fry in batches.
The time taken for the eggplants to be cooked depends on the air fryer and also the size of the eggplant. Keep an eye out after 7-8 minutes.
Use eggplants that have smooth and glossy skin. If the skin is dull, the eggplant is not fresh and may have a lot of seeds. The eggplant should feel slightly heavy for its size and should be firm. When you cut the eggplant, it should have white flesh. Fresh eggplant will have minimal seeds. As the eggplant matures, the seeds increases and if an eggplant has too many seeds, it may be unusable.
For this dish, you can cut the eggplant either into round discs or thick fingers (like fries). I prefer to cut them into ¼-inch round discs.
While it is not necessary, you can do it.
They can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. To reheat, place them in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 375 F (190 C).
Use large purple eggplants to make this dish. I have not tried them with any other variety.
This air fryer eggplant is:
- very easy to make and ready in under 15 minutes
- perfect side with khichdi
- suitable for most dietary requirements
Air Fryer Eggplant (Begun Bhaja)
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 tablespoon oil
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Wash and pat dry the eggplant. Cut them into ¼-inch discs
- Transfer them to a bowl and add turmeric powder and salt
- Add oil and rub them well making sure all the slices are coated
- Preheat air fryer at 375 F (190 C) for 2 minutes
- Brush few drops of oil on the air fryer basket
- Place the eggplant slices in a single layer
- Air fry for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye after 7-8 minutes
- Air fryer eggplant fry is ready to be served