Yes, you have to roast eggplant directly over the flame, and if you do not have a gas stove, then please do not make this recipe :) The char and the smokiness that eggplant develops during the roasting process give this curry its unique flavor.
In Hindi, 'Baingan' means eggplant, and 'Bharta' means smashed. This curry is naturally vegan and comes from the Indian state of Punjab. Indian eggplants are a lot smaller than Italian eggplants, so substitute accordingly.
The base for this curry dish is the classic onion-tomato Masala sauce. If you do not want to prepare the base, you can always use our Masala curry sauce. In that case, you would roast, peel, and mash the eggplant and add it to the sauce along with cilantro, lemon, and green peas.
I strongly suggest not making this recipe if you do not have a gas stove. The smokiness from roasting the eggplant over direct flame is required to make this recipe.
You can serve this curry as a dip or serve it as they serve traditionally, alongside roti or naan. This curry, like any other, tastes best the next day. It gives the spices and all the other ingredients enough time to blend, making the curry delicious.
1 medium size Italian eggplant
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup red onion, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 Tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, minced
1/2 jalapeno, chopped OPTIONAL
1 teaspoon ground hot paprika or Kashmir chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup frozen green peas
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
On a gas stove, over medium heat, roast eggplant for 3 minutes on each side. This should take a total of 12 minutes. Make sure that the eggplant is roasted on all sides. Carefully turn eggplant at a 90-degree angle every 3 minutes. If the eggplant leaks and the juices leak, suck it up!
Using a pair of tongs, place the eggplant on a plate and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the eggplant rest for about 30 minutes. Also, make sure you reserve any liquid that dripped from the eggplant while it was cooling. Remove the plastic wrap, peel off the skin (once it is cool enough to handle), and smash the eggplant as shown in the video. Make a paste.
While the eggplant is cooling, you can prepare the curry sauce.
Heat oil in a 3 qt saucepan over medium heat.
Add onions and salt, saute for five minutes.
Add ginger and jalapeno (if using), cook for 2 minutes.
Add ground spices and saute for 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes, mix. Bring the heat to low, and cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Smash tomatoes with the back of your spoon and cover and cook for additional 5 minutes.
Add mashed eggplant along with the liquid that you saved, green peas, lemon juice, and cilantro. Mix. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes.