I had a couple of large eggplants lying in the fridge, and I decided to make baingan bharta out of it. Did you know – Eggplants are native to the Indian subcontinent. They were not know or cultivated in the western world until year 1500. Yes, ‘idhu namma ooru vegetable’. 🙂 It is classified as a fruit, a berry to be more specific, because they have these tiny little seeds, that are edible.
For a dish like this, or any eggplant dish for that matter, the seeds are kinda bad though. I read this really cool tip on eggplant on Vegetarian Times, that helps you pick out the perfect eggplant: ‘Look on the end opposite to the stem, at the tip of the eggplant, you will see a brown spot. If it is a circle, it is a male and will not have seeds. If it is oval shaped, it is a female and have seeds.’ I haven’t tested it though..but, I am sure to try it out the next time I buy eggplants.
Whats the sweet surprise in my baingan bharta? Apples 🙂 yep, I read about a Kashmiri dish called ‘Choonth Wangan’, in Mark Bittman’s ‘The Best Recipes in the World’. Its a dish were apples are stewed with small Indian eggplants. I so wanted to make this dish, but didn’t have the small eggplants on hand. I made Baingan Bharta with the apples instead. Sweeeet… huh?
2 large Italian Eggplants
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion chopped fine
2 tomatoes chopped fine
1 red bell pepper chopped fine
1 cameo apple
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
chopped cilantro for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil, smear the 2 tsp olive oil over the eggplants and place it on the baking dish. Set it in the oven to bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until soft when poked. Let cool, peel the skin off, and mash the flesh.
If you have a gas stove, you can skip the above baking method, simply roast the eggplant over an open flame until the skin is charred. Place in a bowl and cover to steam. Once cooled, peel the outer skin and mash the flesh. The charring adds good flavor that you cannot get in the baking process. I don’t have a gas stove, and so had to do the baking way.
While the eggplant is baking, chop your vegetables. Core and slice the apple thin, then slice thin matchsticks out of the slices. Chop the matchsticks into very small cubes. You can peel the apple if you want, but I left the skin on. Normally, granny smith apples are used for cooking, because they don’t turn brown as easily and also hold their shape at high temperatures. But, I used a Cameo apple since I wanted it turn mushy like the eggplant. You can use any thin skinned eating apple.
Heat oil in a pan, over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, and saute until golden brown. Add the ginger garlic paste and turmeric powder. Saute until the raw smell disappears. Add the tomatoes and the apple. Add salt to taste. Fry until all the moisture evaporates and the mixture is soft. Now add the spice powders: chilli, cumin and coriander. Fry well. Add the eggplant pulp and mix to combine. Finally add the chopped bell pepper. You can substitute frozen peas for the red bell pepper, or add both for a nice color. I just chose to use the bell pepper. Check for seasoning, and add water to achieve desired consistency. Let it come to a boil. Add the lemon juice. Sprinkle the cilantro leaves just before serving.
Verdict: The baingan bharta tasted tangy and creamy and sweet with our chapatis. No one would believe if you say it had apples in it. But, you can taste the sweetness from it, that makes you wonder, hmm…what is that? A nice way to sneak in fruits in a curry.Pin It