Baingan bharta is a popular Punjabi dish cooked by roasting an eggplant, mashing it, and mixing it into a tasty tomato onion based gravy. It is by far one of my favorite things to order at an Indian restaurant. Even though I had Indian food almost every day growing up, I had not tasted baigan bharta until I was an adult. I can’t believe what I had been missing!
This style of cooking eggplant, looked, tasted, and smelled completely different from what I had seen before even though it used some of the same spices. Growing up, eggplant was probably on the dinner table at least once a week. Eggplant cooked with potatoes and spices is very common in a Gujarati household.
I think I tried it once, and never touched it again. My mom was forced to make two vegetable dishes every time she decided to cook eggplant. I could not stand eggplant cooked in the Gujarati style.
Of course, I’m married to someone who will only eat eggplant in either Gujarati style or as eggplant parmesan. So it’s rare that I order it in a restaurant unless someone else is there to share it with me and it wasn’t until now that I attempted to make baingan bharta at home. As luck would have it, V has decided that he does like it. That’s two against one! I also discovered that it’s really easy to make. That means it’s time to make this dish at home more often!
Classic baingan bharta is made by roasting the eggplant over an open flame. This gives it a really wonderful smoky flavor. I did learn that this technique does make a mess with eggplant juices leaking onto the gas stovetop as the skin chars. If you prefer to avoid this, you can always use the oven as I have done in my recipe. It’s still good but you won’t have that same subtle smoky flavor.
Baingan bharta pairs really well with naan or any other type of flatbread. You can serve it with the main meal over a bed of rice or even use it as a dip!