Big Girl Job [Baingan Bharta]

I love my big girl job as a full-time journalist.

Last week I wrote three stories; this week, three stories again!

Two of this week’s stories are for the Ottawa Citizen. Being an Ottawa girl, there isn’t a damn thing that could make me happier. It’s been my dream to write for that paper for years.

My Citizen stories aren’t published yet and I can’t spoil them for you, so please stay tuned.

I will let you know that I got to go out for what I call a “news day” for one of the stories, though.

A “news day” is a research-interview-write-file all in the same day experience. It’s incredibly exhilarating.

This news day was particularly exiting because it involved kicking off my good shoes to do a 5-kilometre run down a country road and jumping across ditches. Needless to say I don’t get to do that very often at work.

Soft on the inside and black on the outside.

The goods: tomato, ginger, garlic, coriander, garam masala, red chili and cumin.

Breaking down the tomatoes.

On to the recipe – baingan bharta, a Punjabi dish.

It’s sweet, smoky and perfect for scooping up with warm naan or roti.

Baingan means “eggplant” and “bharta” means smashed.

Smashing is key to this dish. In order to make a great baingan bharta, you’ve got to smash the eggplant real good. When it’s time to stir, get into it.

Baingan Bharta

3 globe eggplants
2 large yellow onions, sliced fine
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
3 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp toasted cumin powder
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
½ cup green peas, fresh or frozen
salt, to taste

Roast the eggplants in a 500F oven until their skins char completely. Alternatively, if you have a gas range or barbeque, place the eggplants directly onto burners and carefully turn with tongs until the flesh is very soft and the skin is black. The eggplant will leak a lot of water, but it’s easy to clean up.

Allow the eggplants to cool completely. Peel off their skins. Set flesh aside.

In the meantime, take the time to properly caramelize the onions.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the ghee over medium fire. Add the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the caramelized onions, ginger and garlic. Stirring constantly, gently fry until the raw garlic smell disappears, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garam masala, coriander powder and red chili. Stirring constantly, fry until the spices release their aromas, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they break down, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the eggplant flesh. Stir vigorously to break up the flesh. Do this until you get an even and thick consistency. Stir in the toasted cumin powder. Stir in the peas. Cook until the peas turn bright green, a minute or so. Add the cilantro. Adjust seasoning.

Garnish with chopped tomato, chopped cilantro and ginger julienne.

Serve hot with rotis, naan or rice.

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One thought on “Big Girl Job [Baingan Bharta]

  1. I eat Baingan Bharta at a local Indian restaurant. It is my favorite dish on their menu. Now I can make it at home (with eggplant fresh from my garden). Thank you for revealing the secret spices……..

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