Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry)

To accompany my curried shrimp, I decided to make one of my favorite Indian vegetable dishes, Baingan Bharta, or Eggplant Curry. It's super easy to make, and definitely packs a punch. It's a bit heavy on the ginger... but in a good way. You can easily roast or grill your eggplants ahead of time and throw this dish together last minute (the eggplant will reheat in the pan with the other ingredients). It's hearty enough to be a main course for a vegetarian (or vegan), yet it can easily be enjoyed as a side dish to a protein-based curry. One thing I suggest is to make sure you chop up the cooked eggplant pretty well before you mash it or add it to the pan. I very roughly chopped mine and then after mashing it up it was slightly stringy from the natural texture of the outer layer of the cooked eggplant. This would have been avoided if I had chopped it more. It was fine for us, but next time I would go chop-happy. Just sayin'.

Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry)
Serves 6 to 8

2 large eggplants
2 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 T. minced garlic
2 T. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/4 tsp. red chili powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pierce the eggplant with a fork several times and place on a baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender (alternatively grill the eggplants whole). Remove from the heat, cool, peel, and chop/mash well. Set aside.

In a sauté or saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and slightly golden. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a minute longer. Add the tomatoes, ground coriander, cumin, garam masala, and chili powder. Stir and cook for a few minutes to soften the tomatoes a bit, and then add the eggplant. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes to heat up the eggplant and infuse all the flavors. Mix in the chopped cilantro right before serving.


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