In our family, we all have the one thing we order when we go to an Indian restaurant. For Meera and I, it’s matar paneer (peas and cheese curry) and a garlic naan to go with it. Occasionally we will branch out with another type of paneer dish . . . but usually we don’t. For Mummy, it’s usually some type of daal (lentil) and/or rice that results in her saying: “I could make this better at home.”
For Daddy, though, it is the one and only baingan bharta . . . every single time. To be honest, I never understood why he loved it so much until I recently went home to visit and realized just how delicious my mom’s baingan bharta actually tastes.
A few years ago, Mummy started making it a little differently, and it really sealed the deal for me. Rather than cooking the eggplant over the stove, she started broiling the eggplant in the oven beforehand (I think baking it would probably work too). Add a little bit of this, little bit of that, and voila, out comes delicious baingan bharta!
Now that I’m getting a little more competent at making Indian food, I decided it was time to broil my first eggplant (I know, I’m growing up). So with an eggplant in one hand and my cell phone in the other as my mom told me what to do, everything worked out just fine. Next time I’m home, I’m making this one for Daddy.
- 1 big eggplant
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 tsp. rai (mustard seeds)
- 1/2 tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
- Pinch of hing (asafetida)
- Chopped garlic (about 1 tsp.)
- 1/2 onion – chopped
- 1 small or medium sized tomato – chopped
- 1/4 tsp. haldi (turmeric powder)
- Red chile powder (cayenne pepper) to taste
- 2 tsp. dhana jeeru (mixture of coriander and cumin powder — just coriander powder is fine)
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- Cut the eggplant in half (length-wise) without cutting off the stem. Brush both halves with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Place the eggplant facedown (so the skin cooks first) on a baking sheet and broil for about 10 minutes. Then flip over and broil for another 10 minutes. Be careful that the eggplant doesn’t burn.
- While the eggplant is broiling, chop the tomatoes and onions.
- When the eggplant is finished, place it in a container, shut the lid, and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to cool. Then remove the skin (it should come off fairly easily), and cut the eggplant into about 1 inch pieces.
- Make the vagar: add the canola oil to a pot over medium-high heat. Then add rai (mustard seeds), jeeru (cumin seeds) and hing (asafetida). Lower the heat and add the onions and garlic. Let saute for about 2-3 minutes, and then add the tomatoes.
- Now add the eggplant, the haldi, red chile powder, dhana jeeru (or coriander powder), and salt.
- Stir, cover, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. Add fresh cilantro before serving, and eat with rice and/or any type of bread like roti or naan.