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Brunch Gluten Free Indian Curry Side Dishes Stir-fry Vegetarian

Baingan Aloo (Eggplant & Potato Stirfry)

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianEggplant season is here and I am all over it. Biting into that sweet flesh dotted with soft seeds, I always admire how this delicious vegetable absorbs any kind of goodness thrown to it in good measure.Be it the flavored oils or the profusely strong-tasting spices,squirts of citrus or a mellow yogurt dressing, it takes all. Robust yet so simple and earthly to relish, I have been regularly making eggplant pakoras and bharta, roasting it, open fire grilling it and what not.

However, it is with great regret that I tell you that I did not always like eggplant. I totally hated it as a kid and the same was true for most members of our family. Except for pakoras, I rarely touched it. In the real way, I embraced it as an edible item during those couple of years when I turned a pure vegetarian.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianI always like September for the overlap it brings – the summer bounty is still in the markets but the autumn produce can be spotted on the stands. I am still getting to slice fresh strawberries for my daughter’s breakfast and at the same time I hand over crunchy apples to her as a snack. It is so fascinating how seasons change and that change is first thing evident in the farmer’s markets. I went for grocery shopping the labor day weekend and was surprised how pears and apples have popped overnight on the stands.Can you believe I spotted a few pumpkins and parsnips already! Gosh, where did the summer go.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianSinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indianFor us, especially on the days when like to keep it meat free, a simple meal comprises of lentils, a dry vegetable curry and rice. We sit down to eat together,mostly eat with our fingers, squeezing out that juicy flesh off the peel, smashing the potatoes and mixing it in with ghee smothered dal-rice. Yum! If not with rice, you could roll this up inside whole wheat flatbreads if you like. Go make some before the season goes away.

Sinfully Spicy - Baingan Aloo, Eggplant & Potatoes Stir fry #indian

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or olive/canola oil)
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida powder)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled & cut (I use yellow potatoes)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, divided
  • 1 medium globe eggplant or 4-5 japanese eggplants
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes (I use fresh roma)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango powder, skip or use fresh lime juice to taste)
  • scant pinch of garam masala (optional but lends a nice smoky hint)
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro to garnish

Method

In a kadhai/wok, heat up the oil. If you are using mustard oil you will need to heat it up for up to 1-2 minutes to do away the raw smell. Just take care that is not smoking. Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek and cumin seeds. Let crackle. Immediately add the garlic and hing. Let cook for 5-7 seconds taking care they do not burn.  (You do not want the garlic to turn bitter as it changes the taste of the recipe, take the kadhai off the heat if you feel that its too hot)

Add the potatoes next and let their outer surface crisp up for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder as they brown. Next, add 1 tbsp water, cover and let cook on medium low heat till the potatoes are 50% tender.

Meanwhile, wash the eggplant and cut it up roughly the same size as the potatoes.

Add the eggplant along with tomatoes, rest of the turmeric, red chili and dry mango powder. Also add the salt. Mix well so that everything is covered in spices. Cover and let cook till both eggplant and potatoes are tender. On medium low heat this should take 7-10 minutes.(This time will depend on the variety and size of the vegetables)

Take off the lid and sprinkle the garam masala and  kasuri methi. On high heat, gently toss everything for another 1-2 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro & serve.

Categories
Easy Recipes Indian Curry Side Dishes

Hara Baingan Bharta /Spicy Mashed Roasted Eggplant

This dish formed a quintessential part of the lunch served on Makar Sankrati [an Indian festival] in my grand mother’s house from as long as I can remember.The comfy platter with kaali urad dal khichdi [black lentils with rice],hara baingan ka bharta [roasted eggplant], dahi [yogurt], mooli [parsnips], homemade ghee [clarified butter] and achaar[pickle] are my best kept ways of remembering and celebrating Makar Sankranti till now.

As mentioned before in my previous post,my grandmother’s house has a big vegetable garden. Almost all the winter lunches were served there on a charpai [four legged cot]under the bright winter sun amid the home-grown decor of spinach, methi, cauliflower, garlic, onions,cabbage, radish, carrots etc. I have very fond memories of sitting on the charpai with lunch plate in my hand and picking up fresh leaves of garlic and onions and eating it with the meals. The taste of unwashed, organic stuff was unmatched under the warm rays of sun. I am a survivor of these homemade foods and authentic Indian dishes.A mention of winter lunches still takes me back to my granny’s vegetable garden and the food relished there during all my growing years.

In India,still the sil -batta [type of stone grinder] is used for grinding fresh spices for food, for making the chutneys and for other chores of the kitchens, I saw my mom using sil- batta to grind the herbs for making this dish.Those times were different with machines not being very popular and not widely used,hence the food preparations took more time and effort.You can see images of sil-batta here. Last week,her modern world grand-daughter prepared it in her American kitchen using a blender 🙂 Of course, its difficult to recreate that sil- batta texture even by using a 12 speed blender but I guess that’s what moving and adapting with times is all about!Afterall,its the era of fast and easy food 🙂

Okay coming back to the recipe,this hara baingan bharta was made only once a year on makar sankranti.If you ask me,I do not know why. Maybe because it paired the best with the meal served on that day or maybe its got something to do with nip in the air.Talking. of which , I can really relate to the fact that the best cilantro,mint and other herbs are available in India during winters and since this recipe requires these herbs,may be that’s the reason! I wanted to make this bharta for a long time but was waiting for the temperatures to fall down. As a kid eating these recipes ,I never thought that I would be recreating them some 2000 miles away from home, in a new country, with modern age equipments and serving them to someone who came into my life[aka my husband] much later than I learnt all these things.There are so many times I miss while making all this, the company, the family, the laughs, the warmth, the festivals, home but I guess life takes on its course,for good. I m doing what I am doing right now for some reason! Thts my karmaoh sorry I am deviating … so I should stop now.

Coming back to food,in hindi green color is hara ; eggplant is baingan and bharta is a word used for any sort of mash. So this is green colored mashed eggplant …how easy is that!!!Now you need a lot of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves for this dish.If you are not a cilantro person, use parsley but frankly I havent tried it so I can’t comment on how it will taste.Another shining and irreplaceable ingredient is raw mustard oil which gives the bharta a pungent taste.If you find the taste of raw mustard oil very strong , just cook it slightly beforehand but for the authentic flavor, I recommend raw mustard oil, that’s where the actual bharta taste lies! If you want to use olive oil or sesame oil , go ahead and use it and just don’t call it a bharta then…call it a dip or relish ! The whole point is using a slightly pungent and strong flavored oil.Please refrain from using canola or vegetable oil…it will not work in this recipe.Also, I like my bharta on the spicy side so you will have to cut down the green chillies from what I have mentioned in the recipes if you like less hot.The recipe is darn easy with minimal basic ingredients.

What I need :

  • 1 eggplant, big and fat
  • 1.5 cups of  fresh cilantro leaves [about 1 bunch][clean the leaves properly to remove all dirt and grit]
  • 3-5  green chillies [adjust to taste]
  • 1 ” shoot of fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dry mango powder [anchoor] [can be subsituted with fresh lime juice]
  • 1/2 cup red onions , finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp raw mustard oil for drizzle
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil for tempering
  • Salt to taste

How I did it :

Roasting the Eggplant: Do any one of the following

  • In Microwave : Micro the eggplant in a microwave-safe dish for about 7-10 minutes till the eggplant is tender and spongy to touch.
  • In Oven : Preheat your oven at 400 F. Put the eggplant on a cookie sheet or any oven safe dish and bake for about 40-45 minutes.
  • In Broiler : Heat the broiler to 425 F and broil the eggplant till the skin is charred.You will need to rotate the eggplant in between for even cooking on all sides
  • On Stove Top [This is what I do]:Line the dripping pan of your burner with foil or the aluminium foil drip pans available in stores.Roast the eggplant on high flame on all sides till its soft and the skin is charred.

Making the Bharta :

  • Once cooked ,let the eggplant cool a bit. Once cool to handle, peel off  and discard the skin. Transfer the skinless eggplant to a bowl and using a fork or potato masher , just mash the eggplant thoroughly. [please do not use blender]. Set aside
  • In the blender add the cilantro leaves,green chillies, salt , dry mango powder and make a smooth paste with minimal amount of water [if needed].
  • Next, mix this cilantro paste with the mashed roasted eggplant, 2 tbsp of raw mustard oil  and set aside.
  • In a small pan , heat the 1 tbsp oil on high till it starts smoking slightly.
  • For tempering :Once hot enough, add the chopped garlic and ginger and saute for 1-2 minutes till they start browning. Next add the chopped onions and cook till the onions are dark brown in color but not burnt.
  • Just when you are ready to serve,to the mashed eggplant add the tempering and mix well.
  • Serve warm immediately with chapatis or parathas [flatbreads]

Notes:

  1. The taste and flavor of raw mustard oil is really strong, so adjust the amount of mustard oil as per your palate.
  2. To add more texture, you can add raw chopped onions, bell peppers, cucumbers etc to the mash and use it as a dip/relish.

Enjoy!
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