When I think of roasted eggplant curry or Bengain Bharta, I think of my mom roasting the large eggplants on the gas stove, and the charred smell that used to fill the kitchen was just so intoxicating! Then came the process of cooling it down, remove the charred skin from the top, and have the smokey eggplant as the main star of this dish. It was magical to watch her put the spices into the pan, as she made this vegetable. No measurements, just pure art, putting the salt, turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, cumin seeds, and making the most flavorful dish ! She was and has always been my inspiration, the one who taught me how to cook and make rotis when I was 8 years old! I loved to stand next to her and watch her cook, and eventually help her. I would hold her saree end and just stand by her. Those memories are still fresh in my mind….
I rarely make this vegetable, since no one in my family likes eggplants as yet! I am hoping I can convert my children as they grow older! The main process is to char the eggplants on the gas stove or in the oven, under a broiler to char the skin of the eggplant completely to get the smokey flavor. Then come the onions, garlic, ginger, tomato paste which is quintessential of many Indian dishes, and then comes the spices, and finally the mashed eggplant, such that the spice mixture coats the eggplant beautifully to create a complete flavor profile.
I love eating this dish with homemade fresh rotis and raita, as pictured here, along with some pickled red onions on the side. You could also eat it with garlic naan, it would be so good! J
Hope you enjoy this recipe, and remember to tag me at on Instagram @thejamlab, with #thejamlab, and/or leave a comment below to let me know how you liked this lovely dish.
1 green chilli finely diced(optional, if you like it spicy)
2 tomatoes finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
¾ teaspoon red chilli powder(or to your taste)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
¾ cup frozen green peas or par boiled fresh green peas
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro for garnish
Wash and pat dry 2 large eggplants. On high heat on the gas stove, start charring the eggplants directly on the gas stove. Be careful to use steel tongs(not plastic tongs!), to turn the eggplant around. Let it char for a minute or so on each side, until the entire eggplant is charred on all sides and black in color and the skin is sort of cracked and peeling. You will be able to judge how charred the eggplant needs to be. It should not take more than 10 minutes to char the 2 eggplants.
If you do not have a gas stove, in an oven on the middle rack, on a small baking tray with foil paper, put the 2 eggplants and put it under the broiler on high. Let it sit for about 1 minute and see if it chars till black and skin is cracking. Remove the tray and turn the eggplant slightly to start charring the next side. Keep doing this for 10-15 minutes until the eggplants are completely charred.
Once charred, take a medium sized bowl, put the hot charred eggplants into the bowl and cover with aluminum foil and let it cool down for about 20 minutes. Once cooled down, remove the skin gently with your fingers, and the top portion as well, and roughly mash the eggplant, similar to a banana 🙂
In the meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, on medium heat, add the oil. Add the cumin seeds and let it splatter for half a minute. Add in the onions, garlic and ginger (optional green chilli) and saute for 3-4 minutes until the onions are slightly brown. Add in the tomatoes, and tomato paste, and saute for a minute. Add in all the spices and saute again for a minute to make a complete paste. Add in the eggplant and parboiled or frozen peas, and mix well. Let it cook for another 7-10 minutes till all the flavors are mixed well together. Plate it in a bowl, and garnish with the chopped cilantro!
Enjoy with some rotis or naan, and raita and pickled red onions! Delicious ! J