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My experiments making baingan bartha (Roasted brinjal curry)

Brinjal is known as "the King of vegetables", for its beautiful purple body with a crown and rich nutritional value. There are umpteen varieties of brinjal and is known by different names grown across  the world - eggplant, baingan, aubergine, garden egg etc. This versatile vegetable can be easily turned into a variety of mouth watering dishes. In many recipes, it is also used as a substitute to meat. When I come across people who don't eat this wonderful vegetable, I silently laugh inside knowing what they are missing. 

Fortunately, everyone in our family loves brinjal in whatever form it is prepared - sambar, fry, nune vankaya, guthi vankaya, vankaya pachadi (chutney), katrika kootu, katrika karakuzhambu, aloo baingan, baingan bartha, baba ganoush (mediterranean eggplant dip), grilled eggplant, eggplant parmesan (similar to lasagna) and the list goes on.....


Baingan ka bartha is a very popular Punjabi recipe. As a pre-preparation, we have to roast the brinjal on direct flame, so that it acquires a smokey flavour. Then it is mashed and cooked with spices to turn into a tasty and flavoursome dish, which tastes amazing with different types of indian breads (roti/ parata/ chapathi). Some have it with rice too. 

                                                            Different types of brinjal

Due to my penchant for north indian food, I wanted to try it at home. At Canada, we have a glass top stove and that's when my experiment began with roasting brinjals. 

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Roasting Brinjal for bartha:

Method 1 - Roasting on a steel rack:

Few recipe blogs and videos recommend to use a roasting rack to roast brinjal on a glass stove top like mine. I wasn't sure it works, because there is no direct flame. But trusting those recipes, I purchased the one shown in the picture below and diligently followed their step by step instructions. 

Made few slits on the eggplants, inserted garlic cloves and started to roast it along with a medium sized tomato. This process seemed to take forever. Moreover, the veggies weren't properly cooked and released water during the process, leaving behind a big mess. I ended up with an additional work of cleaning the stove and to top it up the bartha didn't taste good. 

This was the first time ever I hated a brinjal recipe and decided not to cook baingan bartha ever. I stayed true to my decision until an idea stuck me while baking a cake.

This roasting rack method works well in case of gas burners. Don't try it out on induction stoves or glass top stoves.

Method 2 - Roasting in an oven:

I set out to roast the brinjal in an oven. 

I washed and patted the brinjal dry with a kitchen towel, made 4 slits and inserted a garlic clove in each slit to keep it open while roasting. This helps to cook the insides well. I applied some oil all over the eggplant and placed it in a baking tray, lined with an aluminum foil, to ensure the tray doesn't get spoiled. I baked the eggplant at 350 F for 30 minutes, while I turned it every 10 minutes so that all the sides were well roasted. The vegetable becomes soft indicating it is well cooked. That's when we should remove it from the oven and allow it to cool down. 

The roasting time will vary depending upon the size and count of brinjals, type and temperature of the oven. While the brinjal is hot, carefully peel the skin and mash it along with the garlic using a spoon or fork. We can prepare bartha right after this step or store it in an air tight container (in fridge) for later use. 

Though the bartha came out delicious, I found this method tiresome primarily because I use my oven as a storage space when not in use. So whenever I had to roast the brinjal, I had to clear off the oven as the first step and stack the vessels back once it cooled down. So I roast eggplant in the oven whenever I use it for baking fries or pizza, to save on my work and preheating time.   

Method 3 - Roasting on stove top:

Finally I wanted to try one more method i.e., roasting directly on the glass top stove. After prepping the oil smeared brinjal (by slitting and stuffing with garlic), I wrapped it in an aluminum foil and placed directly on the stove top. I cooked turning it every 5 minutes and voila, I found the easiest method of roasting brinjal for bartha. Since then making tasty baingan bartha has become a piece of cake for me.

Without experimenting and getting the hands dirty, we cannot relish our favourite food. Isn't it?

Now that we know how to roast an eggplant, lets dive into the recipe of making baingan ka bartha.

Ingredients:

  • Brinjal (medium sized) - 1
  • Onions - 1 
  • Tomatoes - 2 
  • Green chillies - 2
  • Garlic - 7 cloves
  • Ginger - 1/2 inch
  • Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1.5 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - handful 
  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Salt - to taste

Procedure:

  • Roast brinjal using any of the above methods that best suits you
  • Remove the skin and mash it well using a spoon/ fork while it is still hot
  • To a pan, add oil and once it is hot, add cumin seeds and allow it to splutter
  • Add finely chopped onions and fry until it turns slightly brown in colour
  • Add green chillies (finely chopped), fry for a minute and then include finely chopped garlic and ginger
  • Fry until ginger and garlic lose its raw smell
  • Next add finely chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, salt and cook until the tomatoes are completely mushy
  • Once tomatoes start to release oil, add the mashed brinjal and mix thoroughly 
  • Cook the bartha by covering with a lid on medium flame for 10-15 minutes and mix it occasionally
  • Finally, add coriander leaves, mix and serve the baingan bartha with hot pulkas/ paratas/ chapatis 

Tips:

  • You can store the brinjal mash in refrigerator as part of meal prep and use it for making this tasty bartha on your busy mornings. Ensure to cool the mash completely before transferring it to an air tight container 
  • You can also add cooked/ frozen green peas following the inclusion of brinjal, for added taste and crunch
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I have shown roasting the brinjal and making baingan bartha on my youtube channel. Do check them out.

Oven roasting brinjal:
 


Baingan bartha recipe:





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