Today’s recipe is a very easy and versatile dish using Aubergines. Aubergines come in all shapes and colours ranging from light green to purple to almost black. You get small aubergines, long ones and the most popular are the big fat aubergines sold in all western supermarkets. In India, aubergines are eaten regularly and parents are always telling their children about the goodness of aubergines. Its dark colour does put off some people but the recipes I show will change your minds.
This recipe has been modified from one my parents used to cook years ago. My parents were farmers in India about 50 years ago. My mum used to make Bajra rotla recipe which look similar to chapattis but darker and thicker) and take them to the farm with either fresh garlic chutney (recipe to follow), raw onions and green chillies or yogurt. In the meantime, my dad would have plucked the aubergines from his farm and barbequed it over an open fire. When my mum got there, she would peel out the outside burnt aubergine skin and add the garlic chutney to it and serve it to my dad with the rotlas and yogurt.
So Aubergine Caviar or Baigan Bharta or ORO is really a poor man’s dish but become very popular in all Indian restaurants. In a way perfect during the credit crunch!
Well here’s my recipe:
Cooking time 30 -40 minutes
Ingredients ( will serve 2 -3 ):
- 1 large Aubergine
- a handful of frozen peas (optional)
- 1 medium finely chopped Onion
- 2 small Green chilies – cut into slices (optional)
- A small bunch of finely chopped Coriander (optional)
- salt and chili powder to taste
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 ½ tbls sunflower seed oil (or any oil is fine)
1. First oil the Aubergine, prick it and put in under the grill, turning it every 4 or 5 minutes or when the aubergine skin starts to wrinkle and burn. You can also oil and prick the aubergine and cook it in the oven for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the burnt skin and scoop out the inside in a clean bowl.
4. Mash the aubergine with a fork. This mixture is often referred to as caviar, or bharta or oro in the Indian restaurants. (This dish is versatile and at this stage, you can simply garnish it with the spices and add yogurt and eat it as a side dish). Add the frozen peas to the mashed aubergine mix.
5. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the cumin seeds to the oil. Once the seeds go slightly golden brown, add the chopped onions and chilies.
6. Add salt, turmeric and chili powder to taste and let the onions cook for 2 minutes – try not to overcook them.
7. Add the mashed Aubergine mixture to the onion mixture and allow this to cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
8. Once cooked transfer the the baigan bharta ( or Aubergine Caviar or ORO) to a serving bowl.
9. Garnish it with coriander and serve with naan, chappatis, rotla or any Indian bread.
To make an aubergine dip:
You would mash the grilled aubergine flesh and then add yogurt, salt, finely chopped coriander and a tiny bit of garlic to the mixture.
Next time you see Bhaigan bharta on a menu in an Indian restaurant and see the cost, you can tell yourself that you could have cooked it yourself for under £2.00.
You may also wish to try this recipe I found on a blog I follow for aubergine caviar which is slightly different from mine.
You may wish to try a slighly different recipe where I use the mashed aubergine with spinach.
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