Baingan Bharta – A recipe perfect for all seasons

I see some lovely large and glossy brinjals are in season and when you go shopping select brinjals that are light in weight in proportion to their size. Chances are they would be without seeds or if any, very tender and not so annoying!
To make Baingan Bharta for four portions, you should buy atleast one kilo of brinjal. Prick the brinjals and roast them over open flame or in a tandoor/preheated oven until the skin scorches and starts peeling off and the brinjals start to shrink. Let them cool. You can cool them by dipping them in water. Remove skin and mash the pulp completely. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a kadai. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds. Cook for half a minute and add 3 medium chopped onions and sauté until translucent. Add 1½ inch chopped ginger and 2 chopped green chillies and cook for a minute. Add 2 teaspoons red chilli powder and mashed brinjals. Cook for seven to eight minutes over medium heat, stirring continuously. Add salt to taste. Add 4 large chopped tomatoes and cook on medium heat for seven to eight minutes or till the oil separates. Garnish with chopped the coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis. Remember, it is easy to remove skin of a roasted brinjal if it dipped in water just after roasting
Whenever you feel you are running out of ideas to cook, but want a change from Baingan Bharta, try a different bharta : Aloo Bharta, Pyaaz ka Bharta, Shalgam Bharta, Garlic and Chilli Bharta and Spicy Prawn Bharta.
You can use the humble drumstick to make something novel. Boil 4 drumsticks, remove pulp. Sauté 2 chopped onions in 2 tablespoons oil till soft. Add 2 chopped tomatoes, sauté till soft. Add 6 chopped garlic cloves, ½ inch chopped ginger, sauté till fragrant. Add 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, salt, 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add drumstick pulp, cook for 1 minute. Serve hot.
Another good recipe uses corn. Boil whole corn, remove the niblets and grind it coarsely in a blender. Chop some onions and tomatoes, green chillies and coriander leaves. Heat oil in a kadai, add cumin seeds and sauté till they change colour. Add chopped onions and sauté till light brown. Add chopped green chillies and cook for half a minute. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and salt. Cook for few seconds and add chopped tomatoes. When tomatoes are cooked add corn, salt and little water. Cook for another five minutes. Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander. Makes a nice Sunday dish doesn’t it and a change from the conventional Baingan Bharta?

Baingan bharta – perfect winter food!

In Delhi homes, when it comes to winter foods, it is the season for kali dal, dal makhani, rajma, chole so much so that these are comfort foods for some of us! Leftover dal makhani, straight from the fridge, served with hot paranthe is really tasty! What about the variations of paneer? Aloo paneer, matar paneer, paneer paranthe, paneer tikke, paneer pakore, paneer kofte, paneer bhurji…..well, you can say Delhi is paneer world. In fact, paneer is sold by sabziwalas too! That brings us to fresh green vegetables, the lovely white gobhi, tender tindas, crunchy bhen and velvety shalgams and the most tender of the large purple baingans. As daily food goes, in most homes, a good preparation of seasonal vegetables like aloo matar, gobhi aloo, baingan bharta, gajar matar, shalgam matar, bharwan tinde, bharwan bhindi with roti and dahi suffices. Or if it is a Sunday, the hearty pakorewali kadhi with chawal or rajma chawal is the main meal in most homes. It is this main part of the meal that will never change for the Dilliwala, whatever evolution that may come.
Easy tips:
You can roast the brinjal, peel it and keep it refrigerated in a glass bowl with cover up to one day in advance.
You can prepare the onion-tomato masala also up to one day in advance.
Leftover bharta is excellent as sandwich spread or as stuffing in frankies.
Some ideas to help create a different baingan bharta:
Instead of tomatoes you can use yogurt.
Garnish with chopped stalks of fresh green garlic.
Alternative to roasting the brinjal is steaming it, but then the smoky traditional taste will not be possible.
Some like to add peas as they not only add texture and a sweetness but also visual appeal.