Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Baingan Bharta

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.

Baingan Bharta
Makes 3-5 servings as a side, or part of a tapas-style dinner

*Neutral oil
*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.

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