Baingan bharta is a traditional Indian dish made by roasting eggplant and blending it with a flavorful mix of spices and herbs. The roasted eggplant lends a smoky undertone to the dish, while the combination of spices adds depth and complexity. This recipe I am sharing is authentic dhaba-style baingan ka bharta.
Baingan bharta is a rustic dish that involves roasting eggplants over an open flame, lending a smoky flavor. The mashed eggplant is then cooked with onions, tomatoes, and minimal spices and garnished with cilantro.
This dhaba-style Punjabi baingan ka bharta recipe replicates the authentic taste of this dish, reminiscent of Indian highway dhabas. It's a flavorful and delicious recipe, perfect for converting eggplant skeptics into fans.
Why you will love this recipe?
- The roasted eggplants bring a unique smoky flavor to the dish, adding depth and richness to the overall taste.
- This recipe captures the authentic flavors of Punjabi baingan bharta, replicating the taste you would typically find in roadside dhabas, and adding an element of cultural experience to your meal.
- This baingan bharta is vegan and gluten-free.
- Baingan bharta can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish, and it pairs well with various Indian breads like roti or naan, as well as rice dishes.
Eggplant: Large purple eggplants are used to make this dish.
Garlic and green chili: These are stuffed into the eggplant before roasting them. Adjust the green chili as per your preference.
Tomatoes: Use ripe and juicy tomatoes to make this dish.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Optional ingredients and substitutes
My easy baingan bharta recipe here uses minimal spices and lets the eggplant shine through the dish. However, here are some additional Indian spices that can be added when making baingan bharta:
- Cumin seeds can be tempered in the oil before adding the onions.
- Along with coriander powder, use turmeric powder and cumin powder. Finish the dish with a small amount of garam masala.
- While fresh tomatoes really work well with this dish, you can also use canned tomatoes or tomato puree instead of them.
- Traditionally, mustard oil is used to make the bharta; however, I am using olive oil in my recipe as I find mustard oil too strong. You can also use any cooking oil of your choice to make this dish.
Step 1: Wash and pat dry the eggplants. Using a sharp knife, make small slits in the eggplant (image 1). Insert the sliced garlic cloves and green chili slices into the slit (images 2 and 3).
Step 2: Roast them on a direct flame until they become soft and completely charred (image 4).
Step 3: The eggplant is ready when the skin is fully charred, and the flesh inside is soft and tender. Let it cool completely. Peel the skin off the eggplant and roughly chop the soft flesh (images 5 and 6). Alternatively, you can also mash the eggplant flesh using a potato masher.
Step 4: Heat oil in a
Step 5: Add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy, about 5 minutes (images 8 and 9).
Step 6: Next, add the eggplant to the onion-tomato masala (image 10).
Step 7: Also, add the green peas and mix well. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until oil begins to release from the sides. Keep stirring at regular intervals (images 11 and 12).
Step 8: Garnish with chopped cilantro/coriander leaves.
Use fresh, firm eggplants that have glossy skin. The eggplant that is old tends to have seeds. The fewer the seeds in the eggplant, the smoother the bharta is.
Adjust the green chilies as per your taste. You can also use serrano peppers in this recipe. Kashmiri chili powder is mild and gives a bright hue to the bharta. This is an optional ingredient and can be skipped.
Also, check out this recipe to make Lebanese Baba Ganoush.
Pro Tip: As the eggplant cools down after roasting, it releases some liquid. Do not discard it. Instead, add it along with the eggplant. Also, do not wash the roasted eggplant after peeling it.
What to serve with baingan bharta
Thali: You can also serve baingan bharta as part of a larger meal, such as a thali. A thali is a traditional Indian platter that typically includes a variety of dishes, such as rice, dal, vegetables (and meat), and roti. Here are some of my collections of vegetarian thali and non-vegetarian thali.
The best eggplant for making baingan bharta is the large purple variety, also known as the globe eggplant. It has a slightly sweet and mild flavor, which pairs well with the spices and seasonings used in the dish. The large size of this eggplant allows for a generous amount of flesh, making it ideal for roasting and mashing into a flavorful bharta. It is also relatively low in seeds, which makes it easier to prepare. Other types of eggplant, such as the Japanese eggplant or the Chinese eggplant, can also be used for baingan bharta, but they may not have the same smooth, creamy texture.
You can tell that the eggplant is fully roasted and ready to be used when the skin becomes charred and wrinkled and the flesh inside becomes soft and tender. A good indicator is when the eggplant collapses and becomes easy to press down with a gentle touch.
To roast eggplant in an
Baingan bharta is ideal for meal prepping and can be frozen for later use. It can be refrigerated for five days in an airtight container. For reheating, warm it on the stovetop or in the microwave. Freezing is also an option; transfer it to a freezer-safe container and store it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat as needed.
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Roast the eggplant:
- Wash and pat dry the eggplants. Using a sharp knife, make small slits in the eggplant.
- Insert the garlic and green chili slices into the slit.
- Roast them on an open flame until they become soft and completely charred.
- Let it cool completely. Peel the skin off the eggplant and roughly chop the soft flesh.
Make the bharta:
- Heat oil in a frying pan or kadhai.
- Add onion and fry until it is translucent.
- Add ground coriander and chili powder. Saute for a few seconds.
- Add tomatoes and salt. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.
- Add the eggplant and peas, and mix well. Cook on a medium flame for 8-10 minutes until oil beings to release from the sides. Keep stirring at regular intervals.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot