Punjabi Baingan Bharta (eggplant)

12 Nov
aubergine indian food

provided via creative commons by Frank Horst

While at the farmer’s market last weekend, I noticed a pile of beautiful deep purple eggplants at my favorite stand. Although I’m not fond of most eggplant dishes I’ve tried, I thought surely there was some way I could utilize these beautiful vegetables. So I bought three.

In keeping with my current Indian food fetish, I looked for an Indian eggplant dish (of which there are many). The result was Punjabi Baingan Bharta. Although I don’t really care for eggplant, this dish is very tasty, and I will definitely make it again.

About Eggplant:
Also known as an aubergine, eggplants are low in fat and high in potassium.  They also have been shown to block the formation of free radicals, are rich in antioxidants, and can help to lower cholesterol.

The aubergine plant is native to India, which is why there are many Indian dishes that utilize them. They have been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistoric times, but appear to have become known to the Western world no earlier than about 1500 A.D. Today, eggplants are used in traditional dishes in India, Japan, Spain, the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, and many other places around the globe.

Raw or undercooked Eggplant can have a bitter taste, but the flesh becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor.

As always, I suggest finding ripe, in-season eggplants at your local farmer’s market.

Punjabi Baingan Bharta

The word ‘Bharta’ (pronounced BHURR-taah) refers to dishes in which the ingredients are roughly mashed either before or after the dish is prepared. Bhartas are largely North Indian in origin and made from all sorts of vegetables. This version of Baingan Bharta is really easy to make. Serve it with hot naan bread and your favorite Daal (lentil) dish (here is my recipe for Masoor Daal). It is also good with coconut jasmine rice.


  • 3 medium-sized eggplants (roughly 1 pound)
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped very fine
  • 1″ piece of ginger, grated fine
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala (you can usually find Patak’s brand paste at the supermarket)
  • a pinch of dried mint

    punjabi eggplant

    Served with coconut rice - yum!


Baingan Bharta requires that the eggplant be roasted. To do this, either:

  • Grill on your barbecue grill. Keep turning periodically until all the skin on the eggplant is charred and the inner flesh is soft, OR
  • Broil in your oven until all the skin on the eggplant is charred, and the inner flesh is  soft.

Once the eggplant is roasted, allow to cool fully, and then peel off and discard the charred skin. Once cool, coarsely mash and set aside for later use.

  • Set a large skillet on medium-high heat and add the cooking oil. When hot, add the cumin seeds and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the onions and fry until soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and the ginger and fry for 1 more minute.
  • Add the tomato and all the powdered spices, including the garam masala. Stir well and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the spice mix from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle a little water if needed.
  • Now add the eggplant and mix well. Add the dried mint and stir. Cook another minute and turn off the heat.
  • Serve hot with Naan bread or coconut rice and your favorite Daal dish (recipe here).



8 Responses to “Punjabi Baingan Bharta (eggplant)”

  1. juliakatz1996 November 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    This looks so good! i’m a huge fan of eggplant (j’adore ratatouille!)

  2. honeybeeluvsjackfruit November 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    OOOh, eggplant is actually one of my fav veggies, and I love this dish. Bharta is a good one for those who don’t like eggplant, because you can sometimes sneak it past them, hidden in the mashing and combined with other strong flavors. 🙂

    And ratatouille is on my “to do” list too!

  3. spoonfulofsugarfree November 13, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    This looks delicious! I have jut recently started coking eggplant, and I love the meaty flavor. I just nought some Indian spices, so maybe I’ll have to make this!

    • ThisAmericanDiet November 13, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      You should! It really is delicious. I made it with Masoor Daal, for which I will post a recipe soon. 😉

  4. Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon November 13, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    This dish is beautiful–you plate things so nicely! I’m crazy about Indian food as well, but I must admit I’ve only prepared an Eggplant once. I love the idea of grilling it–that rich grill-flavor would make it even better I’m sure 🙂

  5. NatashasKitchen.com November 13, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    I’m a huge fan of eggplant as well and all the spices in this recipe sound tempting! I like your site. I read thru your vision statement. I’m taking a nutrition class right now for a nursing program and It’s fascinating! I too have become more health conscious especially with taking this class. I guess that’s what I love so much about Russian food or other ethnic foods that are made from scratch; you know exactly what is in your food. Keep up the good work!

    • ThisAmericanDiet November 13, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      I totally agree, Natasha. I love cooking fragrant, bold-flavored dishes from scratch. You know exactly what is in them, and in turn, you know exactly what you are putting into your body! The flavors are so complex and so satisfying.

      It has definitely become more important for me to attain whole-body health. I think there’s more to focus on than just weight, or just food… it’s about living a healthy lifestyle. Food is a big part of it, but it where that food comes from, and how WHOLE it is, that seems to make the biggest difference.

      Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. lizlivingvegan November 14, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Last week I had a hummus, pesto & eggplant sandwich and it was sooo good! I love eggplant, but sometimes, depending on how it’s prepared, I’m not a fan. I’m glad your recipe came out well!

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