Recipe: Bhaingan barta (aubergine and pepper dry curry)

Yes, we’re back to aubergines again because I’m a little obsessed with them at the moment.

One of the things that converted me to aubergines was a two-week jolly through Rajasthan, where we rarely ate meat (and only because we couldn’t bring ourselves to fork out the, oh, 40p extra it might cost us) and enjoyed a LOT of dahl fry. The combination of aubergine with the North Indian acidifier of choice, tomatoes, also proved pretty addictive.

One of the highlights was a stop near Jaipur at Saleem’s house. Saleem being the poor sod who through the combined ill fortune of monsoon and Indian Railways had ended up being our driver. His hotel recommendations notwithstanding, a nice chap whose wife cooked us an amazing lunch over this fire, which was fuelled with locally-sourced fuel: cow pats.

So this one’s for Saleem and his Western music collection – a 1999 CD of the Greatest Hits of the Backstreet Boys.

Bhaingan Barta (sorta)

Ingredients

1 x aubergine

3 x medium sized tomatoes

1/2 inch of fresh ginger

1 x green chili

1 x onion, finely chopped

1 x small green pepper, in small-ish chunks

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp turmeric

Salt

1/2 tsp garam masala

Fresh coriander

Lemon juice

Method

1. Cook the aubergine by poking a couple of slits in it then baking in an oven at 200C for about 25 minutes until soft through

2. Allow to cool and then chop into chunks

3. Puree the tomato, ginger and chili

4. Fry the cumin seeds in oil until fragrant – add the onions and fry until thoroughly browned

5. Add the tomato mixture and bubble for a few minutes

6. Add the dry spices (without garam masala) and salt

7. Add the aubergines and peppers and cook for at least 20 minutes, adding a splash of water where needed. The idea here is to really mash up the aubergine, so get involved. 

8. Finish by stirring in the garam masala and topped with a squeeze of lemon and chopped coriander. Serve with rice, parathas or chapatis.

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