Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eggplant. Show all posts

Apr 2, 2016

Boba's Baingan Bharta (Spicy Smoked Eggplant)


When my husband says a dish I've made tastes just like his mother made it, I know it's perfect! 

My mother in law's nickname is Boba and this her recipe for bhaingan bharta. "Bhaingan" means eggplant and "bharta" refers to the mashing technique with a wooden spoon. Similar to Middle Eastern "baba ghanoush" the eggplant is first roasted over a open flame or coals. This is what infuses the dish with smoky flavor. The roasted eggplant is then sauteed with a flavorsome blend of traditional north Indian spices. The result is a rich, savory pâté of eggplant almost caviar like in richness and intensity. The final step is a handful of chopped cilantro or mint stirred through just to add a bit of brightness. 


indian baba ghaneoushh aubergines Desi

Despite being from different cultures and not even speaking the same language my mother in law and I always shared a love of cooking and very similar tastes. Boba could neither read nor write nor had she ever left the city of Srinagar in her entire life. She never used any recipes but seasoned each dish to perfection. Boba would have taken the eggplant to the tandoori bakery down the street from her home, the bakers would place them into the tandoor oven to roast in a matter of minutes. Boba said that roasting the eggplant in the tandoor ovens was the only way to get the smoky flavor that was so important to this dish.


We're going to try and replicate the charring effect of a tandoor oven on the eggplant over a gas burner. It's not quite the same, and it does take a bit longer but the end result is still quite delicious. Kashmiris would top this dish with a garnish of their beloved local walnuts and perhaps a dollop of local curd or yoghurt. As eggplant is a notorious oil sop be sure to use an oil that you like in this dish. I seriously considered styling this dish with my nacre caviar spoon due to it's richness. (What else am I going to do with a caviar spoon in Nepal?)  Baingan bharta is traditionally served with rice or chapattis warm or at room temperature.

Ingredients:
2 large eggplants, about 1&1/2 lbs
1/4 C cooking oil
1 onion, diced finely
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1 tsp ginger/adrak paste
1-2 green chilis/hari mirch, chopped finely
2 tsp ground coriander/dhania
2 tsp ground cumin/jeera
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2 tsp paprika +1/2 tsp cayenne)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1/2 tsp garam masala
5 black peppercorns/kali mirch, ground coarsely
2 tomatoes, diced finely
3 TBS cilantro or fresh mint, chopped finely
5 walnuts, chopped coarsely  (optional for garnish)

Here's what to do:
1) Roast eggplants over a medium gas flame. Keep turning and cooking until outside of eggplant is charred and blackened evenly all over. The eggplant will seem to deflate as the flesh within cooks. Set aside to cool.


2) Peel off charred skin from roasted eggplants. Don't worry about black flecks that remain on the soft flesh as that will help give us the smoky flavor we seek.


3) Heat oil in kadhai or heavy bottomed frying pan. Fry walnut for garnish and set aside if using. Fry onions with 1 teaspoon salt until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and chilis and fry for 2 minutes.


4) Add tomatoes, and spices to onion mixture. Fry until tomatoes begin to soften.


5) Put the roasted eggplants in the pan with the tomatoes spice mixture. Stir and mash with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes.


6) When the mixture becomes smooth and shiny stir through the cilantro or mint and salt to taste. Garnish with fried walnuts if desired and serve warm or at room temperature.


Helpful Hints:
If you don't have a gas burner you could also roast the eggplants over an outdoor charcoal grill,  an indoor electric burner, or on a foil lined baking sheet under a broiler in an oven.

An interesting aside:
I have been notified that I have been nominated for the "Best Food Blog"  AND "Best New Blog" awards on the  nepaliaustralian blog so get on over there and vote for my blog if you choose at:


Be sure to check out all the other amazing blogs in all the different categories and vote for all your favorites!!! Winners will be announced in May.

Feb 21, 2016

Tamatar Wangan (Kashmiri Tomatoes With Eggplant)

indian mughal tamatar aubergines spicy

From the vale of Kashmir comes this delectable combination of warmly spiced tomatoes and eggplant. Tamatar means tomato in Hindi and wangan means eggplant in Kashmiri.  In this dish tomatoes are slowly infused with the aromatic flavors of cardamom, cassia, cloves, cumin and a fiery burst of crimson Kashmiri chili. The eggplant is sauteed until tender yet delicately crisp. Both are combined in the final step of this dish to create a brilliant fusion of flavors and textures.


This dish is intensive to make even with the time saving advantage of the pressure cooker. I do promise you it is worth it though. The flavor of the tomato gravy is like nothing I've ever tasted before. It's a bit Middle Eastern in feel but still Indian, very different but very delicious. It's also vegan, dairy free, veg, gluten free, and ticks all the right boxes for the "clean eating" that's so fashionable these days.

Ingredients:
7-8 long skinny eggplants/wangan, sliced into quarters with caps & stems attached
1 C cooking oil, (mustard oil if you wish to be authentic)
1 tsp salt
For tomato gravy:
1/2kg/1lb of the ripest, reddest tomatoes you can find, chopped roughly
5 cloves garlic/lahsun, peeled and chopped roughly
1 TBS onion, diced finely
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini
5 cloves/laung
2 tsp cumin/jeera seeds
4 brown cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
5 green cardamoms/elaichi
2 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
3 TBS mint/pudina leaves, chopped roughly (optional)
1/4 C cooking oil (mustard oil if you want to be authentic)
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) Place all ingredients listed for tomato gravy into pressure cooker. Seal pressure cooker and allow to cook for 30 minutes. 


2) While tomato gravy is cooking we'll going to shallow fry the eggplant. Heat 1 C cooking oil and 1 tsp salt in a deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai for 9 to 10 minutes or almost smoking. Slice eggplants lengthwise into quarters leaving the stems and caps attached.

The eggplant MUST be sliced this way or "It will not be tasty'" says my Kashmiri family. I had never seen eggplant cut this way before.

3) When oil is hot fry sliced eggplant until evenly golden brown on the outside and just tender inside. This usually takes about 2 to 3 minutes on each side of the eggplant, use tongs to grasp eggplants by the stem to flip them over. Set eggplants aside to cool.


4) Back to the tomato gravy: remove lid from pressure cooker when cooled, the mixture inside will be a bit soupy. Place pressure cooker over low heat and bring mixture to simmer. Stir mixture frequently and mash tomatoes with the back a large wooden spoon to help the tomatoes, onion, and garlic break down to a smooth paste. Allow mixture to simmer until reduced to a deep red gravy that pulls away from the sides of the pot and oil separates out.  This usually takes about 40 to 50 minutes. 

This is Bibi's big ol' hand carved Kashmiri willow wood spoon. Great for mashing tomatoes & dals while cooking. Also works a treat for disciplining smart mouthed teenagers, disobedient husbands, & troublesome in laws.

5) Salt the tomato gravy to taste and combine with fried eggplant. Stir well to combine and allow to warm through over low heat for 3 minutes. Serve with rice or pulao. Any leftover gravy can be served at room temperature as a chutney.
The oil has separated from the gravy & the tomatoes and spices are rendered to a smooth paste.

Helpful Hints:
If you wish to do this without a pressure cooker then place just the tomatoes, salt and oil in a deep, heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai. Fry tomatoes over low heat for about an hour, then add garlic, spices, and onion and fry over low heat for another hour. Stir frequently and mash tomatoes with the back of a large wooden spoon. If mixture begins to scorch or stick add 1/4 C water and reduce heat. Keep frying over low heat for about another hour until oil separates out and mixture has been reduced to a deep red paste that pulls away from the pan. (Yes, it does take this long without a pressure cooker & I've seen my Kashmiri mother in law actually do this.)  Salt the tomato gravy to taste and combine with eggplants that have been sliced and fried as in steps 2 and 3, then warm dish through over low heat for 3 minutes. Your dish is ready to serve.

In Kashmiri this dish would be called "ruhwangan wangan," because "ruhwangan" means tomato in Kashmiri. That just sounded too silly so I named it "tamatar wangan."
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