BAINGAN BHARTA WITH HERBY YOGURT DIP and NAAN CHIPS
This recipe focuses on an underrated fruit: eggplant (yes, eggplant is classified as a berry). Eggplants, which come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, are in abundance everywhere right now.
Where are Eggplants grown?
Eggplants are native to India, Africa and South Asia, but they are widely used in various cooking traditions across the globe: stir fried, stewed, roasted, braised, in curries, steamed or fried. The most common variety has the very pretty darkish purple skin, a white flesh with loads of seeds inside and a green stem that is a bit prickly.
My mother’s way of preparing eggplant!
My mother used to prepare eggplant (brinjal — as it is called in India), quite often. In fact, it was her favorite. I grew up not liking eggplant — the very sight used to give me jitters. As I grew older, I started enjoying the way my mom prepared the eggplant.
A dish that she used to make often was called bharela ringan nu shaak (or spice stuffed eggplant). This dish became MY favorite. It was prepared by making slits in small eggplants, keeping them still intact on the top, and stuffing them with a mixture of ground peanuts, chickpea flour, spices, and then tempering the stuffed eggplants in cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and the leftover stuffing. I have shared this recipe in my cookbook, “Mumbai Modern.”
Where does Baingan Bharta originate from?
Baingan means eggplant and Bharta means a mish-mash. The dish has origins in the state of Punjab in North India. It is a beloved dish, found frequently in restaurants. The smokey eggplant flavor from grilling it over a stove top is the highlight of this dish, mixed with the Indian spices, alliums and tomatoes.
I have given this iconic, restaurant-famous, baingan bharta a modern twist by layering it on top of a lemony, garlicky, herby yogurt dip, served with baked naan chips. Make this as an appetizer or dip for Diwali or for your next party, and it will be a hit with your family or friends.
What goes in the Herby Yogurt Dip?
The ingredients of the Herby Yogurt Dip are very straight forward:
- Yogurt: I use Greek Yogurt. My favorite kind is from Trader Joe’s. It is thick, love the consistency and it is not sour as well.
- Herbs: I use a mix of herbs like mint, cilantro, dill and chives to give the yogurt a refreshing taste.
- Olive oil : Provides extra creaminess to the yogurt.
- Lemon Juice: provides a bit of tang and freshness to the dip.
- Garlic: Garlic in yogurt dips is my favorite! I love garlic in any form, especially in savory yogurt.
The yogurt dip comes together within no time. It can also be made a day ahead.
What goes in the Baingan Bharta?
The ingredients of the Baingan Bharta are:
- Eggplant: Get the American/Globe eggplant for this dish. It is roasted to perfection on the stove top.
- Alliums: Onion, Garlic, Ginger – are a must in many Indian dishes.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes are currently in the midst of the season ending. So you will still get juicy tomatoes around.
- All the Indian spices: spices like red chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala and red chili powder – the essence of a masala dabba, go into this bharta.
- Cilantro: No Indian dish is complete without cilantro!
The bharta is super easy to prepare and comes together within no time. Bring a restaurant style dish to your home quickly and in a tasty way! The dish is best served with naan chips which are super addictive, mind you!!
If you do make this dish, please do not forget to tag @thejamlab and/or leave a comment on this blog post.