Thursday, July 16, 2009
It all started with a simple phone call to my closest friend in Singapore. I was just back from India and had a bunch of goodies for her. After the usual pleasantries, we decided we should meet for lunch.
"Aqua, I really am craving baingan ka bharta, but I just can't stomach the smell of the roasting eggplant. instead of going out for lunch, would you mind making me some bharta?"
Now, you don't ever deny a pregnant friend her food cravings, do you? So, baingan bharta it was.
The next day, however, she called... her cousin and his wife were on a stopover in Singapore, there was some mix up with the dates and they had landed up early that morning.
"I'll take a rain check on the lunch," she said.
After an hour, another call. It's a small world and six degrees of separations and all that - it turned out that the cousin's wife and I lived in the same building many moons ago. We just had to meet....lunch was on after all.
"Aqua, I don't want you to sweat over the cooking, I'll get something along, you please make the baingan ka bharta. I am really craving it".
Baingan ka bharta - for 4 people with from 1 eggplant that barely weighed 500 gms! How does one stretch 1 eggplant to make enough bharta for 4 people?
Trooping off to the market to buy another eggplant was certainly not the option, I was feeling way too lazy for that.
Fortunately, I remembered reading somewhere in some magazine that grated cabbage can be added to a bharta, and decided to give that a try.
It worked...nobody could tell that there was something other than baingan in the bharta and the bharta nicely served 4 people.
Though the use of cabbage is just optional, I now use it regularly in my bharta.
Eggplant - 1 large
Cabbage - 1/2 cup, grated (Optional)
Green peas - 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 2 medium sized
Tomatoes - 2 medium sized
Ginger - 11/2 tsp, grated
Garlic - 1 tsp, grated
Green chilli - 1 tsp, chopped
Hing - a pinch
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin powder - 3/4 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tsp
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
salt to taste
Juice of half a lemon
Coriander leaves - 1 tsp, chopped
Spring onion - 3 tbsps, chopped
Smear some oil over the eggplant and roast it over an open flame. Keep turning it often and cook till the skin gets charred. Let it cool for a few minutes, then put the eggplant in a ziploc bag and leave it in for about 15 mins. This makes it easier to peel the charred skin.
Peel the skin from eggplant and discard the seeds, if any. With the back of a spoon, mash the eggplant.
Heat oil and add the mustard seeds. When the crackle, add the hing followed by the ginger garlic paste and fry till fragrant. Then add the onions and fry till pink.
Next add the tomatoes and green chillies. When the tomatoes turn soft, add all the dry masalas and salt.
Now add the roasted eggplant and stir and mash and stir and mash till the eggplant gets nicely mixed into the masala. Add the grated cabbage and the green peas and cook the bharta, stirring occasionally, for about 10 mins till the bharta turns a rich brown color.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon, a tsp of sugar and the coriander leaves and mix it in well.
Finally, add the chopped spring onions, turn off the gas and cover. The addition of spring onions adds a really lovely twist to the baingan bharta. Try it, I am sure you will enjoy it!
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!