A blog about cooking and food, and how to make it taste good and be healthy. The dishes are almost all gluten/dairy free, and many are vegetarian. The focus is on techniques and ingredients over recipes - this is about everyday cooking, and that means making it work with whats on hand!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

BBQ Eggplant (Baingan Bharta)

The first time I ever had this dish was in the middle of the woods on a road trip to Amarkantak. We got up early and drove for hours before lunch, going slowly through the mountains on a journey of only 100km. We stopped for lunch at an ashram, where my travelling companions/guides made lunch around a fire. They put the eggplant right into the fire to roast on the coals, and it was one of the first times I really enjoyed eggplant (I learned I like my eggplant well cooked). In an American kitchen, cooking directly with fire is uncommon, but if you have a gas stove you can cook the eggplant directly on the flame.

Its a straightforward process to cook the eggplant on a burner. Just turn every now and then until the skin is burnt and the insides are soft. I don't puncture the skin to keep juices from dripping and making a mess.
Once the eggplant is cooked and cooled, remove the skin. Often you will see instructions to run the eggplant under water to make the process easier, but I like to save the juices, and just pull the skin off. Make sure to get all the flesh near the skin, as that is the most flavorful part.
Once you have prepared the eggplant, you are guaranteed a tasty dish. I prepare it as I do most Indian dishes - start by frying some cumin and mustard seeds in oil (this part is optional, but recommended), followed by onions, which are softened with garlic, chilis, and curry leaves to taste. I use fewer spices than I would for a curry dish, and usually only add tumeric, corriander, cumin, and salt, followed by tomatoes, and finally the eggplant. When the heat is turned off, I add cilantro if I have it.
For this meal I also prepared a simple raw salad of diced cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro.  

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