Baingan bharta is a traditional dish made with grilled eggplants, onions, tomatoes, spices and herbs. If you love eggplants you got to try out this popular Indian dish. Simple yet tastes super delicious with a unique smoky flavor that comes from grilling eggplants on direct fire. Try out this easy recipe to make delicious & simply flavorful Punjabi baingan ka bharta. Serve it with roti, paratha or rice. It also goes well with toasted bread, naan or just as a side in a meal.
About baingan bharta
Baingan bharta is an Indian vegetarian side dish consisting of a spicy grilled eggplant mash that is sautéed with onions, tomatoes and spices. ‘Baingan’ is a Hindi word for ‘Eggplants or Brinjal’ and bharta is a word meaning ‘mashed’
So Baingan bharta typically translates to eggplant mash. This is not any ordinary mash but has a burst of flavors that comes from fire roasting the eggplants.
Though it is said that baingan ka bharta originated in Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, it is also made across India with lots of variations. However the Punjabi baingan bharta is the most common one served in the North Indian restaurants. A lot of households also make this regularly for their meals.
If you ever ask an Indian how a bharta is made, you will hear so many different versions that will surprise you. The simplest version is to simply mash the grilled eggplant and mix with raw onions, garlic, crushed green chilis, lemon juice and salt. This is the Hyderabadi style Bharta which my mom always made and it tastes amazing.
There is also another version to which yogurt is added for a tang. So there is no one way to make baingan ka bharta.
The only secret for a good bharta is to follow the traditional step of grilling eggplants on hot charcoal or direct fire which imparts its characteristic smoky flavor to the dish. But these days a lot of people grill these on the stovetop, oven and air fryer.
Why this recipe works
This recipe is roughly adapted from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor & over the years I have made it numerous times trying out different methods of grilling eggplants including on charcoal. So in this post I have shared making baingan bharta along with 3 methods of grilling.
After cooking this for so many years, I can say that a good baingan ka bharta made with charcoal grilled eggplants don’t need too many spices as we don’t want to lose the real smoky flavor & taste.
The bharta that is served in standard restaurants is so much flavorful for the same reason as it is made with charcoal grilled eggplants.
However most of us don’t have a charcoal grill provision at home, so we either prefer to do it on a stovetop or in oven. But these methods of grilling don’t give the same flavors but somewhat close by.
So I prefer to spice up our baingan bharta with some garam masala. It’s purely a personal preference and you may skip it.
How to make baingan bharta (stepwise photos)
1. I usually use eggplants/ baingan that weigh around 450 to 500 grams. A little large or small is just fine. Rinse the baingan well under running water. Wipe dry with a kitchen tissue. Make 6 slits on the baingan. I check inside the slits to ensure they don’t have any worms inside.
Push medium 4 garlic cloves deep inside the slits. Also slit a chilli and push it inside. Then brush a generous amount of oil all over the baingan. Garlic and chilli have to go deep inside otherwise they will burn.
2. With the help of a tong, place the baingan over direct flame or on a red hot coal. The flame has to be moderately high and not low. You can also do it in a Air fryer or oven. I have shared the pictures and instructions below for the same. For easy cleaning, line your stove with a foil. It will collect all the drippings from baingan & is easy to just discard it later.
3. Keep turning the eggplant to all the other sides especially on the bottom and grill well until charred.
4. When done, the skin of the eggplant is completely charred. The whole baingan becomes soft. Pierce a fork inside the baingan to check. The fork goes in smoothly if it’s cooked completely.
5. Cool it slightly and peel the skin. Optional: – You can also put it immediately in a large bowl and cover for about 5 mins. Baingan will sweat and the skin will loosen easily.
6. Fine chop or mash the roasted baingan with a fork or a masher. Chop the grilled garlic & green chilies as well. This time mine had a lot of seeds, I carefully removed them and discarded.
Making baingan ka bharta
7. Pour 1½ tablespoons oil to a hot pan. When the oil turns hot, add ½ to ¾ inch chopped ginger and 3 chopped garlic cloves. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until a nice aroma comes out. I used mustard oil. You may use any other regular oil.
8. Then add fine ½ cup chopped onions (1 medium onion) and saute until light golden.
9. Add ¾ cup deseeded chopped tomatoes & ¾ teaspoon salt. Cook until the tomatoes break down & become soft. I used grilled tomatoes here.
10. Then add ½ teaspoon red chilli powder & cook until the raw smell of tomatoes goes away. This takes about 2 to 3 mins.
11. Add mashed grilled garlic, green chilli & baingan. You can use only half of the green chilies at this point. Taste test and add later.
12. Mix and mash a bit with spatula to blend everything well. We prefer ½ teaspoon garam masala as the eggplants are not charcoal grilled. You may skip it but read my tips & notes below.
13. Mix well and cook for 3 to 4 mins on a medium heat. Taste test and add more salt if needed.
14. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve baingan bharta with roti, paratha, butter naan or plain rice. It also goes well with some toasted bread.
Roasting eggplants in air fryer
The flavor of eggplants grilled in air fryer comes close to the charcoal grilled ones. You can grill the eggplants whole or cut to 2 parts. Brush some oil over it & keep it in the air fryer basket along with tomatoes, green chilies and garlic.
Place the basket in the air fryer and air fry at 200 C or 400 F for 22 mins or until done. If you cut it to 2 parts, then cut down the time to 15 mins or so. Sometimes I also use the smaller purple eggplants and they take just about 13 mins. Cool them and remove the skin. Follow the recipe as mentioned for the next steps.
Roasting eggplants in oven
Place an aluminium foil over a metal baking tray. Cut each eggplant to 2 parts and make 2 slits on each part. Insert the garlic cloves and green chilies deep inside the slits. Place the eggplants & tomatoes in the tray.
Broil/Grill them at 240 C or 460 F in oven for 16 to 18 mins. When done, a fork inserted into the eggplant goes smoothly. Eggplants grilled in oven do not get any smoky flavor so you may smoke the bharta using a red hot coal once done.
Pro Tips & notes
Choosing eggplants: Bharta is best made with large purple baingan that are firm and have a glossy skin. Avoid over-matured eggplants or those having brown streaks as they have more seeds. Eggplants with lesser seeds have better flavor, are pulpy and will have a smoother texture once cooked.
But after grilling them if you find seeds, then simply scoop them out and discard. You will be left with lesser servings of bharta.
Grilling: Eggplants grilled over hot coal get the best smoky flavor. Air frying them is the next best I have felt. You may do it on the gas stovetop or in oven as well. But the flavors are not the same in oven.
Grilling on gas: We don’t prefer grilling on gas for personal reasons. However if you want to do it as shown in the pictures above, place a gas stove burner cover to collect the drippings. Also ensure your eggplant is at room temperature before grilling.
Spices: Eggplants grilled on hot coal have so much intense smoky flavor so the dish does not need any spice powders/ masala other than a bit of red chilli powder. But grilling them on gas stovetop or oven does not impart the same flavors. So garam masala brings a lot of flavor here.
If you are grilling the eggplants on charcoal, then you may skip garam masala as the original smoky flavor itself is so good.
Tomatoes: A lot of times I make baingan bharta without tomatoes. It does taste very good even without them. Add a generous amount of lemon juice to it before serving. Avoid squeezing the lemon on hot bharta.
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 500 grams eggplants (baingan)
- 4 medium garlic cloves
- 1 to 2 green chilies (slit, adjust to taste)
- 1 teaspoon oil (mustard oil or any other)
- 1½ tablespoons oil (mustard oil or any other)
- 1 medium onion (½ cup chopped, 130 grams)
- 1 large tomato (¾ cup deseeded & chopped, 200 grams)
- 3 large garlic cloves (fine chopped)
- ½ to ¾ inch ginger (fine chopped)
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon garam masala (read notes)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoon coriander leaves (fine chopped)
- Rinse eggplants well under running water and wipe dry with a kitchen tissue. Make 4 slits on the brinjal and push 4 garlic cloves deep inside 2 slits. Also push 2 slit green chilies in the other 2 slits. Brush them with oil.
- On Direct Fire: With the help of a tong, place it on direct fire. You can do it either on the red hot coal or stovetop. Keep turning it to all the other sides and grill until it is done completely roasted. It takes about 12 to 14 mins.
- To grill in oven: Line a metal tray with foil. Cut each eggplant to 2 parts and place them on the tray with the skin side on top. You can also place the tomatoes in the same tray. Broil/Grill them at 460 F or 240 C for 16 to 18 mins.
- In air fryer: Place baingan, chilies, garlic and tomatoes in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 400 F or 200 C. It takes roughly about 22 mins for the whole eggplant, 16 mins if you halve the eggplant & air fry.
- Once done, check by inserting a fork into the eggplant. It should go in smoothly & easily meaning it is soft and cooked well. (Check step-by-step photos above)
- Cool the eggplant and peel the skin. Optionally – Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and cover it for 5 mins. Once done remove the skin.
- Mash or chop the eggplant, grilled garlic and green chilies. Keep these aside. Chop the tomatoes, onions and raw garlic as well.
How to make baingan bharta
- Pour oil to a hot pan. When the oil turns hot, add chopped ginger and garlic.
- Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until aromatic.
- Then add chopped onions and saute until they turn light golden.
- Add tomatoes and salt. Cook until they become soft. Then add red chili powder and cook for a few minutes until the raw smell from the tomatoes goes away.
- Then mashed eggplants, garlic and green chilies. (You may want to save half of the green chilies for later after taste testing)
- Mix everything and mash it a bit to blend well. Then add garam masala and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on a medium heat.
- Taste test and add more salt and green chilli. Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Serve baingan bharta with roti, rice or naan.
- Traditional bharta does not use garam masala as the charcoal grilled eggplants will have a unique flavor of its own. Since I do not grill my eggplants on charcoal grill we do prefer garam masala. However it is a personal preference and you may skip it if you don’t like.
- For extra heat (spice) in the dish, you can use more green chilies. Adding more red chili powder will alter the flavor of the bharta.
- You can add half teaspoon cumin seeds to the oil before frying the ginger garlic.
- Use eggplants that have a smooth and glossy skin. Avoid over-matured eggplants with lots of seeds.
- After grilling the eggplants if you find seeds inside, just scoop them out and discard.
- For more authentic flavors & taste, grill eggplants on red hot coal.
- Adjust the amount of spices and tomatoes to your taste.
- For more tang add some lemon juice while serving.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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