Sara's Baigan Bharta (Indian Mashed Eggplant Dip)
Baigan Bharta is very similar to the Middle Eastern dish called baba ganoush. I discovered the Indian version after I got married. Lulu's aunt, Sara, makes it whenever we come over for dinner and I absolutely love it. It's very fresh and full of Indian spices. She adds yogurt at the end, and I think it gives the dish a velvety creaminess and adds another dimension of flavor to the eggplant.
One of the best characteristics of Baigan Bharta is its versatility. It is perfect as an appetizer served with baked pita bread. I also like to use it as a spread when I make vegetarian sandwiches. It even makes the perfect element for a fusion dish. I like to serve it as a first course with Israeli couscous.The creamy flavor of the Baigan Bharta melds very well with the tangy vinaigrette that I pour over the couscous.
Yields: 4 servings1 large eggplant
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp red chili powder, to taste
1/2 tsp coriander powder, freshly ground
1/2 tsp cumin powder, freshly ground
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno green chili pepper, finely diced (to taste)
2 whole green Thai bird chiles
1/2 lime, freshly squeezed
3 1/2 Tbs full fat Greek yogurt
1 red onion , finely sliced
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp white peppercorns, freshly ground
1/2 tsp liquid smoke, (optional)
Dice the unpeeled eggplant into big chunks. Leave the skin on. In a large pot, bring about 4 quarts of water to a full boil. Add the eggplant. Cook for about 30-40 minutes with the water still at full boil until soft and tender. (The eggplant should sink to the bottom of the pot; no eggplant should be floating).
Drain the eggplant using a fine mesh colander. Discard the liquid. Place all the eggplant pulp in a cheese-cloth and remove as much excess water as possible.
In a nonstick pan, heat the canola oil. Add the chopped yellow onion. Cook about 7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste. Cook until it's slightly golden and very fragrant. Add the coriander powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, curry powder, turmeric powder, salt. Stir for about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup green bell pepper, the jalapeno pepper and about 1/4 cup of fresh mint. Stir constantly so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom the pan. Mash the eggplant using a fork until all the eggplant pulp is pureed. Remove from the heat. Let the eggplant cool completely.
Cover and chill the eggplant mixture in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
Before serving, remove from the refrigerator. Add the rest of the bell pepper, the whole Thai chiles and the chopped red onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add liquid smoke if you'd like. Mix all the ingredients until the eggplant dish is smooth. Finally, add the yogurt and stir well.
Serve at room temperature with toasted pita bread.
I watched an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown where he was explaining how to make liquid smoke. I haven't tried yet but I bought some from the store. Sara doesn't roast her eggplant. She thinks it alters the texture of the eggplant and the color of the dish. So I added a little liquid smoke for a nice extra smoky aroma.
I usually use plain yogurt from the Indian store or Greek-style yogurt; it has a denser consistency than the regular one.
Indian cuisine always call for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
Published By: on May 21, 2009.