An Eggplant-Based Problem (& Solution)

March  2, 2015

For those nights when you get home hungry, stressed, and impatient, Hangry is here to help. Each Monday, Kendra Vaculin will share quick, exciting meals to rescue anyone who might be anxiously eyeing a box of minute rice.

Today: We know the smells coming from the Indian restaurant are really, really, really good, but don't succumb to ordering takeout for the third night in a row. Kendra will show you how to replicate your favorite dish at home.

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Hypothetically, let’s say there is an Indian restaurant on your street. Just for the sake of this thought experiment, let’s make their bhartha really really good. Also cheap. Also very fast -- delivered to your door in under 20 minutes if you place the order online. Theoretically, let’s imagine that you are regularly walking down the street on your way home from yoga when it’s dark out and that the smell of the spices spilling from the Indian restaurant is almost too much to bear. You go weak in the knees, pulling the retaurant’s website up on your phone as you collapse onto the concrete…

SURPRISE! This is not a hypothetical situation. This is my actual, garam masala-scented life. The conditions described above (smells! darkness! walking! hunger! nearby restaurant!) have enabled me to order a straight-up absurd amount of Indian delivery in the months since I moved into my apartment and I thought I should do something about it: not cut Indian food out of my life -- I’m not a maniac -- but figure out how to provide for myself. 

The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is recognizing that the problem is eggplant-based. The third step is going to the grocery store.

Bhartha (sometimes “bharta” -- I couldn’t find anyone authoritative to make a ruling, so tell me in the comments if you know!) is a vegetarian Indian dish best served over a bowl of jasmine rice. My favorite iterations (including the one available up the road) include peas, which add a really good pop of color and texture. Make a huge batch -- you’ll be going back for thirds. 

More: Why stop at bhartha? Make pad Thai at home, too.


Serves 4

large eggplant

 tablespoons vegetable oil

medium onion, diced

medium tomatoes, diced

cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 
teaspoons ground ginger

teaspoons curry powder

teaspoons cumin

teaspoon turmeric

teaspoon chili powder

cup frozen peas, thawed

teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Black pepper, to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Mark Weinberg

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Kim W. March 4, 2015
OOoo..I'm on this..this weekend.
food52fan March 4, 2015
This looks both delicious amd easy! Will make it this weekend for sure. I am seriously craving Indian food right now thanks to Kendra!
taochild March 2, 2015
When you add curry powder, are you going with a store brand or a personal blend? If you make your own, would you share your recipe?
Rashda K. March 2, 2015
Authentic baigan bharta doesn't include peas, but a hefty dose of thinly sliced green chilies and cilantro. Also, we Bengalis call it "Bhorta." Lol, yes very much the tomayto/tomahto situation! :)
Regine March 2, 2015
This dish looks like an Indian version of French Ratatouille. Looking forward to making it soon.
AntoniaJames March 2, 2015
Looking forward to trying this! I'm in need of some eggplant inspiration as well as some Indian-food-to-make-at-home inspiration, so this could not have come at a better time. Thank you. ;o)