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Author Notes: This is my version of a very traditional Indian dish, baingan bartha. Baingan bharta is an eggplant dish that’s a staple on most Indian restaurant menus. I really like this recipe because it involves roasting the eggplant at a high temperature in the oven. The roasting process eliminates a lot of oil which makes it a very healthy dish and it also imparts the eggplant with a delicious smoky flavor.
If you’ve ever been intimidated by Indian recipes or have yet to try one, you may want to start with this dish as it is a relatively simple Indian dish. Simply pop the eggplant in the oven and while it's roasting, you can prep and chop your other vegetables and spices to save time. This recipe uses a handful of spices including garam masala, which is a blend of dried spices commonly used in Indian cooking. There are probably as many different varieties of garam masala as there are Indian cooks but most of them contain a mixture of spices that include peppercorns, cloves, cumin, coriander, and cardamom. Garam masala can be found in specialty grocery stores and Indian markets. —Sonali aka the Foodie Physician
- 2 medium eggplants, about 2 lbs total
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons grated garlic
- 1/2-1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 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.