Indian Food Challenge: Baingan Bharta

The first time I had Baingan Bharta was last year at Chaat Paradise in Mountain View. The first words out of my mouth when I took a bite were, “holy shit this is good.” I liked eggplant before; this dish made me obsessed.

But I can’t always find it on restaurant menus. The last time I had it was when I was down in LA in January, and I ordered it, plus naan and chutney to eat alone in my hotel room. I’d ordered it spicy, but thank goodness for the sweet, jelly chutney because the heat was overwhelming. That didn’t stop me from eating the leftovers for breakfast the next day though.

So when I saw Jenna’s post about it….and then Tea’s, I knew I had to make it myself. And even though my pictures aren’t nearly as pretty, I promise it’s delicious.

Hippo must investigate all things.

It seems to be a bit of a summer dish – being that it’s eggplant and tomatoes – but Rainbow had eggplants in the discount section and by using canned tomatoes (or jarred to avoid the BPA issue), I made it this week. I forgot to buy cilantro, so my recipe doesn’t include any, but fresh cilantro is traditional to the dish so please add it or at least garnish with it!

I served it over rice and chickpeas, for an extra protein punch.

Baingan Bharta 

  • 1 large eggplant or two medium eggplants
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 2 inch piece ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed (depending on how much heat you like)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 lemon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Slice eggplant in half, sprinkle both cut sides with salt and rub with olive oil. Bake, fleshy side up, for 30 minutes, until soft. Broil for additional 5 minutes until caramelized and golden.

While eggplant is roasting, add onion, garlic, and ginger to food processor with 3 tbsp water. Process until smooth.

Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add onion mixture and turmeric and cumin and cook for 10 minutes, until browning.

Meanwhile, process tomatoes and jalapeño in food processor. When onion mixture is brown, add tomato mixture, salt, and coriander, and cook for 15 minutes.

When eggplant is done, remove from oven, and scrape the soft flesh into a strainer. Drain as much water as possible.

Add eggplant to pan, stir to combine, and cook for 6 -7 minutes. Add gram masala and lemon juice and simmer additional 3 – 4 minutes.

Serve over rice or with naan or roti.

Tomato-y, eggplanty goodness.

As you can see, I am reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Reading about factory farming and suffering never gets easier. I encourage everyone, vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores alike, to read it. Because he’s normally a novelist, Safran Foer makes the whole thing compelling.

Many things stuck with me – and I’m debating how much to share here – but this in particular felt powerful:

“If the world followed America’s lead, it would consume over 165 billion chickens annually (even if the world population didn’t increase). And then what? Two hundred billion? Five hundred? Will the cages stack higher or grow smaller or both? On what date will we accept the loss of antibiotics as a tool to prevent human suffering? How many days of the week will our grandchildren be will? Where does it end?”


5 thoughts on “Indian Food Challenge: Baingan Bharta

  1. that looks delicious. i’m surprised it’s hard to find in the city, literally every restaurant in berkeley has it, although there’s a disproportionately high number of punjabi restaurants there.

    maybe once things settle down we can do an indian night, i have a pretty smashing tikka masala mix, if only i could find where to get paneer at.

  2. first thing, i’ve never heard of anyone making baingan bartha in an oven. lol. also, i seem to be the only person in the world who seems to hate this dish. :-/

    • You are totally right about the cooking method – it should be done at the very least on the range so you can get the charred outside. This is the lazy woman’s way, I admit it!

      Do you like eggplant prepared other ways?

      If you’re ever in the Bay Area, check out Chaat Paradise…it may just change your mind!

      • ha ha. I’m from india, I can all the chaat i wanna eat here. 😛 but i love stuffed brinjals and the traditional south indian (read tamil) way of making them. i’m just not a chaat fan, i prefer more south indian food to north indian food. it’s too tangy and masalaish for my taste

  3. Haha I realized you were from India after I replied and checked out your blog!

    I love south Indian food too – I hadn’t realized there was such a difference until I went to a south Indian restaurant and was surprised to not see anything I knew on the menu.

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