Shubhra Ramineni is a culinary instructor, busy mom of a veggie-loving girl and award-winning cookbook author of Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook. Shubhra’s no-fuss cooking style recreates authentic Indian flavors using easy techniques and fresh and easily available ingredients.
Shubhra has generously provided a copy of her latest tome, Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking, Easy Recipes for the Hurry Home Cook for one lucky VegOut! participant who completes the 30-day challenge this March.
In the mean time, she’s shared one of her simple, yet elegant recipes to inspire you in your food adventure…
Smoked eggplant is one of my favorite Indian dishes, and is fun to make! The eggplant, also known as brinjal in India, is roasted directly over the open flame on a gas stovetop. If you don’t have a gas stove, you could roast the eggplant under an oven broiler or cook it on an outdoor grill. If you use an oven broiler, it is not as messy, but you will not get the smoky taste that comes from cooking directly over an open flame. This dish can be served with naan or as an appetizer along with lightly toasted wedges of pita bread. – Shubhra
Fire Roasted Eggplant (Baingan Bhartha)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes if using a gas stove
Refrigerator life: 3 days
Freezer life: 1 month
Reheating method: Place the refrigerated or defrosted eggplant in a microwave and stir periodically. Or, place it in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically.
1 large eggplant, globe variety (about 1 lb/500 g)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus 1 extra teaspoon oil if using an oven)
1 small onion, diced
1 fully ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt
On the stove:
- If you’re using a gas stove to roast the eggplant, place aluminum foil under a large burner to make clean-up easier. Wash and dry the eggplant. Place the eggplant directly on the gas burner on high heat. Using tongs, frequently turn the eggplant to make sure all sides are evenly cooked, about 8 minutes. When done, the eggplant will become very soft and mushy. The skin will be charred, and it will have collapsed in on itself. Also, some liquid will release the cooking process, which will be caught by the foil. Remove from the heat and let cool. Discard the foil.
- If you’re using your oven to roast the eggplant, preheat the broiler to high. Wash and dry the eggplant. Rub 1 teaspoon of the oil on the eggplant so it will not dry out while cooking. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet on the highest rack possible near the broiler and turn frequently until the eggplant is evenly charred and the flesh is soft and mushy, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Using your fingers, peel the skin off the eggplant and discard. After you have removed the skin, hold the eggplant over your sink by the stem with one hand. Wet your other hand and very gently grab the eggplant and run your hand down it to help take off any small remaining bits of skin.
- Place the eggplant in a shallow dish. Holding the eggplant by the stem, use a potato masher to mash the eggplant flesh and break it apart. (The stem will become separated from the eggplant flesh. Do not discard the stem.)
- Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. When the oil is heated, add the onion. Sauté until the onion is lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.
- Add the tomato. Cook until the tomato pieces become soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the mashed eggplant (including the stem and the juices), red pepper and salt. Stir to combine. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve the eggplant on a platter, along with the stem, or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!
On the grill:
- Wash and dry the eggplant. Heat a grill on medium-high heat. When the grill is heated, place the eggplant directly on the grill rack. Close the grill, and check back every 5 minutes to turn the eggplant. Cook for a total of 20 minutes with the grill closed. Cook until all four sides of the eggplant are soft and mushy. Remove from grill and let cool. Continue with steps 3 to 7.
Recipe from Entice with Spice, Easy Indian Recipes for Busy People by Shubhra Ramineni. Learn more about Shubhra, her cookbooks and upcoming events and classes at enticewithspice.com.