Baingan Bharta is a voluptuously soft and boldly flavored eggplant & tomato dish...baba ghanoush's flashier curried cousin, let's say. When I decide to have a thali/tapas-style Indian dinner, it's a perfect addition among small plates of yogurt-marinated chicken skewers, samosas, naan, and crocks of lentil soup. Madhur Jaffrey's recipe in An Invitation to Indian Cooking provided me with the loose framework for this delicious dish.
Makes 3-5 servings as a side, or part of a tapas-style dinner
*1 medium eggplant, between 1-1 1/2 pounds
*1/2 onion, minced
*1 small nub of ginger, a little less than an inch, grated
*2 cloves of garlic, minced
*1 hot green chili pepper, minced
*2 teaspoons ground coriander
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne, to personal taste
*1 juicy tomato, chopped
*Scant 1/3 cup water
*1 tablespoon of lemon juice
*1 teaspoon garam masala
*Kosher salt, to taste
*A pinch of amchur powder (optional - you can add a touch more lemon juice in its place)
*Plenty of warmed naan
Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the eggplant in half and brush the surfaces of each piece lightly with oil. Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for about an hour. When done, set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, heat a bit of oil in a medium-size pot over moderate heat. Saute the onions for a few minutes, and then add the ginger, garlic, and chili pepper. Continue sauteing for another 5 minutes or so, then add the coriander, cumin and cayenne, and lower the heat just a touch as you stir the spiced mix around the pot for another minute or so. Add tomatoes and water; bump the heat back up and cook for a few minutes before scooping the flesh from the cooled eggplant halves into the pot. Stir in the lemon juice, garam masala, and salt to taste. Bring down from a boil to a slow simmer, and let it sit on the stove for about 20-30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes before serving, add a pinch of amchur powder, if you're using it. Serve with lots of warmed naan to scoop it up.