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Eggplant with Fragrant Spices & Herbs (Bhartha)

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Serves six as a side dish.

Yields 5 cups.

This is a delicious way that Indian and Pakistani cooks prepare roasted or grilled eggplant, and it tastes best made a day or two ahead. It's good as a light lunch, served hot or cold with rice pilaf and a bowl of yogurt, or as a side dish with pita triangles. You can even use it in sandwiches. 

  • 2 medium globe eggplant (about 1-1/4 lb. each)
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped (to yield 2 cups)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 small fresh green chile, such as jalapeño, cored, seeded, and minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Light a grill fire. Grill the eggplant over the open fire or gas flame, turning them frequently, until the skins are black and parched and the flesh feels soft when pierced with a fork, about 18 minutes. (Alternatively, prick the eggplant in several places and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 350°F oven until soft, turning two or three times, about 1 hour.) When the eggplant are cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin and put them in a colander to drain. Squeeze the eggplant gently to get rid of the extra moisture and chop the pulp. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, and a little salt; set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the onion over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and fresh chile and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add the spice mixture and cook, stirring a few seconds until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the eggplant pulp and the chopped cilantro. Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid in the pan evaporates and the oil begins to separate and forms a glaze over the mixture, about 20 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve in a bowl sprinkled with more cilantro leaves.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per 1/2 cup; Calories (kcal): 150; Fat (g): 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 100; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 2; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3; Carbohydrates (g): 12; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): 125; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Wonderful Recipe. Easy to follow. Just have patience with the onions, especially if you're doubling the recipe. My husband said it reminded him of his mom's. (She's a punjabi living in India.)

This one is ok, but this one is healthier and easier: http://aplestoaples.blogspot.com/2011/01/eggplant-bhartha.html

Another Bhartha lover here! I made use of farmer's market goodies-eggplant and tomatoes, both of which are in season. As noted by a previous reviewer, canned tomatoes will also work if tomatoes aren't in season. This was very flavorful. I ate it straight as a side dish, but the beauty of this recipe is it can be used as a dip, on top of rice, what have you. Great dish-I will be making this again!

Loved it too!!!! I thought I would use canned tomatoes since I did not think it's not the season for tomatoes and they would have no flavor. When I went to the market they had vine ripened tomatoes so I went with what the recipe called for. It was definitely the right call and the only way I would even consider making it. Also, because my friend is sensitive to spice I used half of the cayenne and only half a hot pepper, seeded and rinsed. This was more than enough spice even for me who loves spicy flavors! Since I was making the Tandori Chicken recipe from Fine Cooking and had the yogart, I put some of that on the side, which cooled it off a bit and was truly great tasting!!! We had it again the second night (with yogart...why not) and it was just as good.

Loved it! Whenever I get a taste for Indian food, this is one of the dishes I prepare.

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