Baingan Bharta is a delicious vegetarian eggplant dish that's a staple on Indian restaurant menus. I make mine by roasting the eggplant in the oven, which gives it a rich, smoky flavor.
I’ve been getting a lot of requests for Indian recipes like my Chickpea and Spinach Curry, so I thought I'd give it another go. Here's my version of another classic Indian dish, Baingan Bartha.
Baingan bharta is an eggplant dish that’s a staple on most Indian restaurant menus. It's a North Indian Punjabi dish made with mashed eggplant.
The eggplant is typically cooked over a direct flame. Then once it's softened, the chopped, mashed eggplant is sautéed with a savory mixture of onion, tomatoes, and spices.
Baingan bharta in the oven
If you’ve ever been intimidated by Indian recipes or have yet to try one, you may want to start with this Oven Roasted Baingan Bharta. It's a relatively simple Indian dish that you'll love!
Traditional recipes for baingan bharta call for grilling the eggplant over a direct flame to get the skin charred all around. However, that involves constantly turning the eggplant to ensure even cooking.
I much prefer to roast the eggplant in the oven. Not only is it easier, it also gives the eggplant the same rich, smoky flavor that you get from grilling.
Simply prick the eggplants all over with a fork. Then roast them in the oven until the skin is wrinkled and the flesh is soft, about 40-50 minutes. While it's roasting, you can prep and chop your other vegetables and spices.
When the eggplant is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool. Then, peel off the skin and chop up the eggplant flesh.
The spices you'll need
There are a handful of herbs and spices in this dish including cilantro, ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric and garam masala.
Garam masala is a blend of dried spices that is commonly used in Indian cooking. There are probably as many different varieties of garam masala as there are Indian cooks! Most of them contain a mixture of spices that include peppercorns, cloves, cumin, coriander, and cardamom.
All of these spices can be found in specialty grocery stores and Indian markets. They are also starting to pop up more frequently in traditional grocery stores in the spice aisle.
The good news is that once you have all of these spices, you can make just about any Indian dish. Spices are a great way to add a lot of flavor to a dish without adding calories.
I like to grate my ginger and garlic with a Microplane zester/grater because I don’t like big chunks of those aromatics in the dish. If you don’t have one, you can puree them in a mini food processor with a little water, or just chop them as finely as you can. You can also buy prepared ginger garlic paste at Indian markets.
Assembling the dish
While the eggplant is roasting in the oven, heat some oil in a skillet on the stove. Cook the onion, spices, and tomatoes together until softened.
Add the oven roasted eggplant along with some peas and let it all cook together until the flavors meld. While peas are not a traditional part of this dish, I like to add them for a pop of color and texture.
Garnish the dish with fresh, chopped cilantro and you're done!
How to serve this dish
Serve this Oven Roasted Baingan Bharta with Indian naan or roti. You can also serve it with steamed rice.
I also like to serve homemade raita on the side but you can substitute plain Greek yogurt. The tanginess of the yogurt nicely balances the smoky flavor of the eggplant.
To wash it all down, try my delicious sweet strawberry lassi, a refreshing blended yogurt drink.
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Baingan Bharta (Oven Roasted Eggplant)
- 2 medium eggplants, about 2 lbs. total
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1-¼ teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons grated garlic
- ½-1 green chilis (can use jalapeño or serrano pepper), seeded and minced (depending on how spicy you want it)
- 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven until the skin is wrinkled and the flesh is soft, 40-50 minutes.
- Remove the eggplant from the oven and cool. Once cool, peel off the skin and discard. Chop the eggplant flesh and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, which will start to sputter when they hit the oil. After a few seconds, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the ginger, garlic and pepper and cook another minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, turmeric, garam masala and salt and cook until tomatoes start to soften, 4-5 minutes. If the mixture gets too dry, add a tablespoon of water.
- Add the chopped eggplant with any juices to the spice mixture and stir to combine well. Stir in the peas, then cover and cook another 6-7 minutes until the flavors are melded and peas are heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.
- Serve with Indian naan bread or basmati rice (I like brown basmati rice) and Greek yogurt. The tanginess of the yogurt nicely balances the smoky flavor of the eggplant.
Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies! I am so glad that you shared this recipe on Fit and Fabulous Fridays! 🙂
Thanks Sonali for the delicious vegetarian recipe!!! I made it tonight for dinner and everyone loved it including Landon (my 2 year old son) who usually does not eat food when it is all mixed together.
This will definitely be added to the regular rotation!
Thanks Alehna!!! I'm so happy you guys liked the recipe, especially Landon- kids can be the toughest critics! 🙂
The Foodie Physician says
Yes, definitely! I love Asian eggplants- they have a more delicate flavor and I think they would work really well in this dish. You could probably reduce the amount of time in the oven since they are usually smaller than traditional American eggplants. Let me know how it goes if you try it!
QQ sonali. does it matter if you sub in Asian eggplant?
Lynda @ TasteFood says
This sounds wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!
Sonali I made it this morning and it was divine! My 15 year old nephew declared it to be delicious and promptly ate 2 bowls full. Husband loved it too, really nice. Thanks again for sharing, this will become a regular dish in my house (so delicious and yet fuss free to prepare).
you will make your mother proud. I will make it with peas and tomatoes. Looks yummy
The Foodie Physician. says
Hi Peggy- that's quite a coincidence! Did you end up making it? If so, I would love to hear how it turned out. Thanks!
I kid you not I have a big plump eggplant staring at me, asking to be cooked. And I have no idea how to cook it (it was a gift, I have never ever bought or cooked eggplant). I am making this tonight, thank you so much for sharing!