When onion prices skyrocket, as they have in India nowadays, what better than to switch to dishes that don’t use onions at all? Here is the recipe of a potato eggplant bharta I made today, using no onions.
Bharta, or chokha, is the Hindi word for "mash". You take the boiled ingredients, mash and cook them together. The usual baingan bharta (or eggplant mash) is prepared with a generous dose of onions. This recipe is a case in point that a nice baingan bharta sans onions can taste delicious.
- Potato – 1 boiled
- Tomato – 1 large
- Eggplant – 1 purple round, medium-sized
- Ginger – 1/2 inch piece, crushed
- Garlic – 2 pods, crushed
- Green chilly – 1 chopped
- Panch phoron – 1 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin-coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Chilli powder – to taste
- Salt – to taste
- Garam masala – a tiny pinch
1. Roast the eggplant. I do it on my gas burner, in this way – wash and brush oil over the whole eggplant. Place it directly on the gas burner on medium-low heat. Keep turning around every minute or two, taking care that all sides get done evenly and no side burns. When the skin looks black and brittle all over, then it’s ready to be taken off the fire.
2. Skin the roasted eggplant: Take the eggplant off the flame and allow it to cool to room temperature. (15minutes or so) Peel the skin off gently, making sure that the pulp doesn’t go off with the skin. If the eggplant has been roasted correctly, the skin will crack and fall away when touched. Dip your hands in water if it gets messy.
3. Mash the roasted eggplant: Deseed the eggplant if you don’t like the seeds (I don’t!) – the seeds are in clustered strips inside, just make a split in the eggplant and rip them the seed strips off. What remains is juicy roasted pulp. Mash it and keep ready for use.
4. Mash the potatoes. Easy, this. Peel your boiled potato and mash it.
5. All into the pot! In a kadhai, heat the oil and splutter the panch phoron (More on panch phoron). When the methi seeds begin to brown, add ginger-garlic and green chillies. After a minute, add chopped tomatoes, salt, cumin-coriander-chilly powder. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
With the back of your spatula, mash the tomatoes in the kadhai and mix the mashed potatoes. Cover and cook for another couple of minutes. Then blend in the mashed eggplant. On high flame, cook for two minutes till everything blends well and looks the same color. At the end stir in garam masala.
6. Serve hot. With chapatis, dal and curd.
- Be prepared to cleanup after roasting the eggplant. It leaves the gas burner in a mess!
- You can substitute panch phoron with mustard-cumin seeds and mustard oil with any other oil, if you don’t like its flavor.
- Garam masala which has an extremely strong flavor; just a sprinkle is enough to make its presence felt.
- Garam masala tastes best when added only at the end of cooking.