When V and I first met, during one of our many conversations I asked hime about his favourite vegetables and he told me that he liked eggplant. I told my mom and somehow it spread throughout the family from there !!!! Everywhere we went, everyone made eggplant. By the time we flew here, he was sick and tired of eggplant !!! I was told not to make it for a few months !!!! Finally I started making it again but even then I am careful not to make something too often ‘coz then it will be banned from the “can make “ list !!!
I have always have wanted to make baingan bhartha but somehow it has never come out to my expectation !!! Recently I was watching the show “Aarti party “ and I saw her make a different version of baingan bhartha. I immediately had to try it !!! It looked simple enough. We had to go to dinner at our cousin’s and I figured I would make this as my contribution. I am glad I did. It was delicious !! Creamy yet chunky with subtle spices. I think this is one of those dishes that will always serve you well. Even though she called it Baingan Bhartha, I think the more appropriate name is DAHIWALLA BAINGAN BHARTHA.
Even though everyone liked it, I have come to the realization that the world is divided into 2 groups…..ones who like eggplant and ones who don’t . There is no group for people who are okay with it !!! This is one those vegetables !!! So your eggplant lovers will love this. We ate this with rotis and rice. I did eat the leftovers with pita as a dip . So this could be used as an appetizer as well. The consistency is perfect for dipping. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.
Here are a few interesting facts about eggplants. It is native to the Indian subcontinent, spreading to different parts of the world as a part of the spice trade. It is a part of the nightshade family and its flowers and leaves are poisonous if consumed in large quantities !!! 90% of the world’s production comes from only five countries with China leading the way followed by India, Egypt, Iran and Turkey. The most common variety found here and also most easily available in all stores is the purple,fat, large globe variety. It has few seeds and is full of water. It is perfect for this application !
The other major ingredient in this dish is yogurt. I love yogurt in almost all forms. I will admit a particular partiality to the greek kind. I find the tang and texture most pleasing !!! Did you know that yogurt comes from the turkish word “ yogmak “. The origins of yogurt are not known but ancient Indian texts mention yogurt and honey as the food of gods while Persian traditions say that Abraham owed his longevity to the regular ingestion of yogurt.
Eggplants are mild and generally take on the taste of what spices and marinades are in the dish. It is spongy and will absorb liquid if not cooked properly. If its a male eggplant it is slightly bitter and if its female its slightly sweet. How do you tell the difference…..the male is pricklier at the stem !!! I roasted them……mine were female which intensifies the sweetness and removes all the liquid so you are left with a chunky sweet base . Its a perfect vehicle for your spices.The yogurt gives it a smooth texture ,as greek yogurt has the texture of sour cream when compared to regular yogurt. It also imparts a lemony flavor. The spices used are few and subtle. I did make a couple of additions. The original asked only for green chillies but the heat was not quite enough for me so I added a little chilli powder. I also added ginger for warmth. Feel free to omit them and make the original .
There are a couple of blog events going on right now that I figured I would sent this to. One is the “ Know your Diary event “ started by Jagruti of Cooking Odyssey and this months ingredient is Yogurt and is hosted by Seduce your tastebuds. Another is the “Favourite recipe” event hosted by Swati of Zesty South Indian Kitchen as a part of the Bookmarked Recipe series.
DAHIWALLA BAINGAN BHARTHA
2 large Eggplants
1 medium White Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, chopped
1 inch Ginger, peeled and chopped finely
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped finely
¼ cup Cilantro, chopped
¼ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Cumin powder, plus a pinch for garnish
½ tsp Red Chilli powder ( Cayenne ), plus a pinch for garnish
Salt to taste
2 cups Greek Yogurt, beaten till smooth
Pre heat the oven to 500 F
Line a baking sheet with foil. Slit/slash around the eggplant from top to tip. This prevents it from exploding in the oven !
Rub them all over with oil and bake for 40-45 minutes, turning them over halfway.
Once the flesh is soft and the skin is brown. Remove, cool slightly. Remove the skin and stem.
Chop the flesh coarsely. It should be chunky.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan. Sauté the onions, chillies and ginger till the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, cayenne and salt. Sauté for another minute or so.
Add the eggplant and cilantro. Cook another 2 minutes adding a tbsp of water if it begins to stick.
Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Add the yogurt in small quantities and mix well.
Garnish with cilantro, cumin and cayenne powders.
Let it sit and serve at room temperature.