Thursday, June 5, 2008
A bharta is a dish of pureed or mashed vegetables mixed with spices. The eggplant is traditionally grilled slowly over hot coals but I decided to bake it instead. It has been raining all day here and I did not feel like getting soaked for the sake of the eggplant! Having said that I have bbqed in the rain - ribs taste better cooked on a grill after all..... Back to the eggplant - if you are not able to to grill or bake in a hot oven, you could always steam it. DO NOT BOIL - as the eggplant will turn into a soggy beast!
Make sure you make incisions all over the vegetable otherwise you will end with a big mess in the oven as it could EXPLODE while cooking. Don't really know if the last bit is true - I haven't tried it.
I have used ghee (clarified butter) and vegetable oil for this dish. The clarified butter is butter that has been rendered to separate milk solids and butter fat. It has a wonderful aroma and adds a lovely nutty flavour to this dish.
1 medium eggplant
1/2 tsp ghee
1 tb vegetable oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 medium onion - minced fine
2 cloves garlic - minced fine
1/2 in ginger root - minced fine
1 medium green chilli - chopped fine
1 small ripe tomatoes finely chopped
salt to taste
1 tb chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash eggplant and dry it. Make incision with a sharp knife all over the whole eggplant. Rub some oil over it . Place on a baking sheet and in a preheated oven. Bake for 40 minutes.
Allow the eggplant to cool. Once it has cooled cut it in the middle , scoop out the soft flesh and place it in a bowl. Mash finely with a fork. Discard skin.
Heat oil and ghee over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once the spices start to pop, add the onion, ginger, garlic and green chili. The aroma of the the spices sauted in hot ghee is truly one of my favourite aroma. What could be better than cooking with clarified butter?
Back to the recipe - once the onion starts to slightly caramelize, add turmeric, chili powder, coriander powder, salt, and tomatoes. Saute for one minute. Add 2 tablespoon of water , cover and let it cook for 3 minutes. Add garam masala, mashed eggplant and half of the cilantro. Cook for another 3 minutes and remove from heat. Sprinkle rest of the cilantro over it or skip it if you are averse to cilantro. This dish is wonderful served with naan , chapati or even rice. I served mine with chapati - a great way to scoop up all the delicious bits of eggplant! Makes 2-3 servings.