Burning baingan bharta

Mallika Basu - Burning baingan bharta

Posted 2nd July 2007

img_7138.jpgHubby and I woke up at the crack of dawn this weekend, taking an overland train to the middle-of-nowhere to collect our new car.

As I picked split ends in the back seat, the car dealer talked him though car controls, insurance and bodywork.


In the house I was back in form, making a last minute meal for my friend who was visiting for lunch. I chose baingan bharta, a roasted aubergine mash with a smokey spicy flavour.

As the aubergines roasted on an open flame – messy but tantalisingly aromatic – my husband dashed into the study to tell me the aubergines were on fire.

Nothing like a bit of comedy relief.

The only tricky part about this recipe is making sure the aubergines are roasted evenly so that the crispy charred skin just falls off when you try to peel it.

I tend to make this when I entertain small groups of people so that I’m not roasting and peeling aubergines all day! Try it with a raita and some pulao for a simply delightful vegetarian meal.

This recipe serves 4:

2 large whole aubergines

6 cloves garlic

2 inches ginger

2 medium tomatoes

2 medium onions

12.5 gm fresh coriander

3 green chillies

Salt to taste

3 tbsp sunflower oil

Turn the flame up on high on two cooker hobs. Place an aubergine on each hob to roast. In the meantime, cut the garlic, ginger, onions and chillies into little pieces, quarter the tomatoes and finely chop the coriander.

Keep turning the aubergines using tongs so that they roast evenly. When the skin chars and splits they are ready to be turned.

When the aubergines are evenly burnt, take them off the flame and leave to cool.

Now bring a large pot with the oil to heat on a high flame. When smoking hot add the onion, ginger and garlic and fry until pale brown. If the mixture starts sticking to the bottom, add a little hot water and stir vigorously to release it.

Then add the chopped tomatoes, coriander and chillies. Fry for five minutes until the tomatoes disintegrate.

Lower the heat to a simmer and peel the aubergines. The skin will just fall off, and where it doesn’t, use a sharp knife to tease it away.

Add the two aubergines to the pot and mash it into the masala mixture. Raise the flame to medium and add salt now to taste. With a wooden spoon, keep stirring to make sure there are no lumps in the aubergine and that the masalas are evenly distributed.

Leave to cook for another 10 minutes until a taste test fires up your senses. This spicy recipe is great served alongside chicken tangri kebabs or some hot rotis.

20 responses to “Burning baingan bharta”

  1. VK Narayanan says:

    Baingan once again. Wow! Nice results.

    My version is slightly different making it a more baingan-y feel and taste by not adding garlic/ginger. Have you tried it this way?


  2. Anita says:

    I make mine almost the same way…just I add some cayenne as well! The beauty of this recipe is that it relies only on fresh herbs and aromatics, and no spices – not even turmeric!

    And your husband eats the burnt baingan? Mine doesn’t 🙁

  3. Mangs says:


    last night a friend made me baingan bhartha and i asked for the recipe but forgot to take it and this morning… whoo hoo.

    im psychic. how scary is that!!!

    i have no open flame, only electric though and so might try the er… oven?!

  4. sra says:

    Burning baingan? ha ha ha!

  5. Shilpa says:

    Haha, you never fail to make me laugh with your descriptions! 🙂 I just might copy this one, I love baingan, although I usually cook mine in the oven, 3kg at a time (no kidding)! I believe in bulk! 🙂

  6. Maninas says:

    This sounds lovely! I saw another version with yoghurt, instead of tomatoes. Both sounds great. I shall have to try them when I’ve overcome my fear of flaming aubergines!

  7. Dumela says:

    Hi… i was laughing so much when i read… “my husband dashed into the study to tell me the aubergines were on fire”, I make it the same way, except i mash them before adding them to the onion masala mix… i shud try your way, it probably is more chunkier…. thanks for the recipe…

  8. Coffee says:

    Aubergines is on fire!!! Hahahaha…… It was a nice read. 🙂

  9. Erica says:

    I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious. I will definitely be making it again, and experimenting with the other techniques mentioned here – thanks for the recipe!

  10. tim says:

    What a refreshing site! I’m posting here because I can’t see any easier way to reach you.

    Reason? Rick Stein’s recipe for GOAN LOBSTER using a GOAN MASALA paste. To some 12 tsp of ingredients, he adds FOUR OUNCES of RED FINGER CHILLIES. And uses 3 tbs of that for 2 Lobsters.

    Not knowing what ‘finger chillies’ were – hence my search & finding you – I used 2 tsp of BIRD’S EYE chillies – all I had. Despite several years near ‘Calcutta’ in the ’40s, it blew my top!!

    Could he REALLY have meant FOUR OUNCES?? Surely FINGER CHILLIES are not that mild?

    = Tim

  11. Mallika says:

    Hi Tim

    Thanks for dropping by. Should you have any other queries, I am also on mallika@quickindiancooking.com.

    Four ounces of red finger chillies sounds like a lot. But then Goan food is very, very spicy normally. Also, I am from Calcutta originally and infamously crap at stomaching chillies.

    Two teaspoons of red chillies would have done my nut in too. Next time try half the amount. It will hurt you enough without killing you off completely.

    The other thing is that red finger chillies are quite difficult to find in normal shops, unless you want dry ones, which every Indian corner shop should have or happily source for you.

    I hope you ate the lobster anyway… would be a right shame to waste it!



  12. tim says:

    Twice replied to your mail address – each time returned. Oh, well!!
    = Tim

  13. I made this last night and it was absolutely HEAVENLY. Thank you so much for the recipe!! I used an alternative method for the aubergine, which I think you might appreciate — I cooked the aubergines over medium heat in a completely dry skillet until the skin charred and the flesh collapsed. Here’s a link to the aubergine method on my blog:


    And here’s a link to my post on your fabulous baignan bharta;


    I also tried your aloo gobi with less success but it was my own fault — I got nervous and added too much water!! (Hanging head in shame). As a result, the cauliflower was overcooked and not golden.

    Your blog is great and I’m going to link to it!

  14. mukta says:

    Hi mallika,
    I have hot plate, so can I roast the aubergines in Oven. And also how to do that in the oven?

  15. Puneet Madaan says:


    I rubbed the skin with oil, and placed it inside oven at 230°C for about 30 minutes..

    after 30 minutes, it was done… skin was still purple ( but turned crispy)… it was pretty easy after words to peeling it off, as due to internal skin, the cooked Aubergines meshed gathered at the center, and skin was just like sort of a ballon…

  16. Thank you , I’ll have to subscribe your site and read the rest I think. The first date my wife and I had nearly 20 years ago now was a lovely seafood restaurant in Napoli, so I’ve been spending ages trying to rediscover a decent grilled lobster recipe like we had that night – our anniversary is next month so I’m hoping to surprise her!

  17. Saira says:

    will love to try this recipe out Thanks for sharing … will like to add love your work 🙂

  18. Natie says:

    Hi mallika basu,
    The post is great and easy!
    the only problem i had in making the bharta, when i was done it tasted and smelled like burned eggplants and overheated, is that how its supposed to be or was there some error making it?

    any reaction or tip would be appreciated.


  19. Big 6 says:

    […] but with no kids. Work, with all the time to relax after. I braved each pan of sizzling cumin, burnt aubergine and mis-shapen roti with vengeance and a gin and […]

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