I’m not sure why but I’ve never been a huge fan of aubergine, I’ve absolutely nothing to base my opinion on, maybe it was the poorly made moussaka I had when I was younger, sure! I cook with them, a lot in fact, but I still wouldn’t thank you for any on my plate!

That is until I was introduced to the wonderful Bhegan Bhartha

” Punjabi baingan ka bharta is just one of several versions of aubergine bhartha in Indian cooking. The word bharta (pronounced BHURR-taah) refers to dishes in which the ingredients are roughly mashed either before or after the dish is prepared. Bhartas are largely North Indian in origin and made from all sorts of vegetables.”

Punjabi baingan ka bharta requires that the aubergine is roasted, giving the aubergine a wonderful smokey flavour,

This can be done in several different ways.

The first is to roast it on an open gas ring by just placing the aubergine straight on the burner and keeping the flame on low setting. Keep turning and cooking until all the skin on the eggplant is charred and the inner flesh looks really soft.

Or, you can grill the aubergine on your barbecue grill. This is my preferred method Again, keep turning periodically till all the skin on the aubergine is charred and the inner flesh looks really soft. The barbecue method will give you the distinctive smokey flavour that authentic bhartha has.

The third method is to roast the aubergine in your oven till all the skin is charred and the inner flesh looks really soft.

SHOPPING LIST

3 medium-sized aubergine

A good splash of rapeseed oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 medium onions (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1-inch piece ginger finely chopped

2 large tomatoes finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala

A good handful of fresh green coriander finely chopped

2 green chilli finely chopped

1 400g tin of drained chick peas

METHOD

1. Once the aubergine is roasted, allow to cool fully and then peel off and discard the charred skin. Once cool, coarsely mash it and keep aside for later use.

2. Now put a pan on medium heat and add a splash of rapeseed oil, When hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute

3. Now Add the onions and fry until soft and translucent.

4. Now Add the garlic and the ginger and fry for 1 minute.

5. Now Add the tomato, green chilies, and all the powdered spices, including the garam masala. Stir well and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the spice mix from sticking to the pan. Add a little water if needed.

6. Now add the aubergine and mix well. Add the chopped fresh coriander and the chick peas, Cook another minute and turn off the heat.

Serve hot with chapatis

Written by Jon Fell

Head Chef Rosehill Theatre, Chef on the Simply Good Food TV app, run a Seafood Cookery Class at Peter Sidwell Cookery School, Newspaper food columnist

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