Kiran's Cooking Club

Everyday Indian Food

Smokey Autumn Aubergine (Bhaingan ka Burtha)

Without overstating it, I think there is something a bit regal about an aubergine. The deeply rich shade of purple; it reminds me of the most glorious Royal Robe. The kind with the white fur trimming.

Crowning the metaphor (excuse the double pun) is of course the crown on the aubergine – a glorious top, worn at a teasingly jaunty little angle.

This dish is a complete transformation of this royal vegetable – a de-robing if you will. But the transformation, once complete, is a feast fit for Royal taste buds.

The smokey flavour, the warm spices, the newly revealed  warm auburn colours; autumn on a plate. Perfect symbolism for this transformative season.

Transformations are dramatic, and this one is no different.

Place your aubergines (I have three medium -large ones) directly on your gas burners – on full flame. It will make a mess, but your house will be filled with that cozy smell of a traditional wood burner.

An oven or grill works too, but you’ll miss that charred smokey flavour. A barbecue of course also works if you want to avoid the mess over your cooker top. Live a little.

You are looking to cook the aubergine through to the middle. Turn the aubergine over a few times to make sure all sides are done – including the bottom. Don’t worry if the juices come pouring out.

The aubergine needs to be deeply charred all over – the skin will become burnt and flakey. This should take around 20 – 30 minutes.

Golden flesh pierces the broken skin – just teasing you.

When they’re done, take the aubergines off the gas, place  in a bowl, and cool them down in cold water.

Gently peel away the skin. Rinse them gently by dipping them in the water. Don’t worry if bits of charred skin remain – it just adds to the flavour.

If the skin does not come away easily, or if too much flesh comes away with the skin, you haven’t cooked the aubergines long enough.

When pealed the aubergines look a bit like a broken Aslan from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Slain.

There will be a happy ending. A second coming. Be patient. Be brave.

Chop off their heads.

Lightly break up the aubergine; the back of a spoon or the flat of a knife will do the trick.

It will all mash up anyway in the dish, but try not to make it into a paste – you want to keep a little texture.

For my three medium-large aubergines, I am using two large onions. Roughly chop these into 1cm pieces.

In a pan or wok, heat up some oil (approximately three table-spoons of Olive Oil). The onion will absorb this pretty quickly, and you don’t want the final dish to be too dry, so don’t be shy about adding a little more oil if needed.

As you are loosing a lot of texture in the aubergine, make sure the onions keep their shape.

You are looking to cook them so they are translucent, and golden in colour (about 10- 15 minutes of cooking on a medium heat), not caramelised.

Once the onions are golden, they are ready for everything else.

My spices are:

– 2 tsp coriander powder
– 1 tsp (heaped) paprika powder  -(known as Kashmiri Mirch – it adds colour and flavour)
– 1 tsp (heaped) cumin seeds
– 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
– chilli powder to taste (I added 1/2 tsp for a little background heat)
– 1 1/2  – 2 tsp salt (or to taste)

Give the cumin seeds a boost by adding them straight into the hot oil at the start if you like. But adding them together now as I did also works well.

At this stage I am also adding:

– 2 tbs tomato paste (you can dilute this in a little water to avoid any lumps)
– 1 inch of finely chopped ginger

The colour is instantly apparent. The tomato paste gives the turmeric and paprika a great boost.

Gorgious terracotta, a fiery auburn.

Mix and gently cook for 10 – 15 minutes to allow all the spices to blend together and cook. Make sure this is on a slow heat to avoid sticking.

Serve with a garnish of fresh coriander leaves.

I ate my Smokey Autumn Aubergine in a soft warmed tortilla wrap – all rolled up with the hot Bharta oozing out.

Bhangan ka Bhartha (literally ‘mash of aubergine’)  is more traditionally eaten, of course, with a freshly made hot roti (flat bread or hot naan). There is nothing better.

Have this as a main meal for something light, or a side dish if you dare hide it away as an after-thought to your meal.

No flat bread? Spread on toast, or eat off crackers or nachos like a more colourful babaganoush dip.

Regal Aubergine. Slain and Resurrected. Enjoy.

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70 comments on “Smokey Autumn Aubergine (Bhaingan ka Burtha)

  1. girlinafoodfrenzy
    September 23, 2012

    Beautiful silky eggplant is an all time favourite! I love the charred texture against those jeweled toned fabrics in the shot. Definitely snack/meal time worthy 🙂

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you 🙂 – I was just admiring that crostini you made!

  2. looseleafbri
    September 23, 2012

    I love the imagery! I have never had a recipe make me laugh but soMewhere between Aslan and chopping off their heads I started laughing. I definitely want to try this dish!!!

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you so much. I’m flattered 🙂 Hope you enjoy it!

  3. caleephotography
    September 23, 2012

    I will definitely try this at home!! Yum! Thanks Kiran!!! Great post and as usual fantastic pictures 🙂

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you so much 🙂 loving those Damselflies too !!

  4. petit4chocolatier
    September 23, 2012

    I love your pictures! The eggplant is stunning and everything looks delicious!

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you! Ditto – You’ve had a fantastically busy weekend. Looking forward to enjoying your wonderful posts 🙂

  5. dgourmac
    September 23, 2012

    Gorgeous post! Concise, clear, with stunning photography. Now if you could only get my wife to tolerate spices and food smells (especially burning eggplants)…

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you 🙂 It honestly smells incredible. Try outdoors on your BBQ if that’s an option, or else nose pegs 🙂

      • dgourmac
        September 23, 2012

        Thanks for the quick reply. The gas grill outside is one option, but the best is our wood-burning pizza oven outdoors. However, that requires a bit more setup time. Will try this recipe the next time we crank it up for pizzas. Of course, I’ll still have to eat it all myself or with friends.

  6. Archana
    September 23, 2012

    wow….most of the ‘baingan ka bartha’ recipes call for frying them in oil….but your recipe here makes it look so easy, quick and guilt-free!

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Oh wow! I haven’t heard of it being fried before. My Mother in law used to sauté chopped aubergine and then mash it (but this means the skin is included in the dish which can be quite bitter). Roasting the aubergine gets rid of the skin. Classic north Indian / punjabi method – well at least my mum used to do it this way 🙂 That’s the wonderful thing about family recipes of course – everyone has their own amazing method. Hope you give it a go!

      • Archana
        September 23, 2012

        sure….i do want to try this out sometime!

  7. fotograffer
    September 23, 2012

    Yummy and so beautifully photographed. Thanks

  8. Christine
    September 23, 2012

    I love… love your photos. Your aubergine with the silk… so rich with colour. Just beautiful. The food looks delicious. Are you the photographer and cook? Smashing!

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you 🙂 That’s really nice of you to say. I love taking photos – never thought of myself as a photographer as such, but really nice of you to say so!

  9. tammylovesdishes
    September 23, 2012

    This sounds absolutely delicious! What a great dish for the cooler weather of Fall.

  10. westendmaw
    September 23, 2012

    This looks amazing, I’m always up for new ways of preparing aubergine! Gorgeous!

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Do let me know if you try it – would love to know if you like it. It’s a staple in our house! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Pam
    September 23, 2012

    I love your choice of spices – so not what I’m used to, but I’m learning between you and my daughter’s new family. Her father-in-law is an amazing Indian cook! I’m still enjoying my version of your Chai recipe in the morning (sub ground coriander for green cardamom pods)! Love your blog!

    • Kiran
      September 23, 2012

      Thank you Pam! Glad you liked it 🙂
      Have you added ground coriander instead of cardamom? That’s a brave choice for tea! Maybe try a couple of cloves or pepper corns if you’re looking for something heavier.

  12. gwynnem
    September 23, 2012

    This looks so good, Kiran!

  13. cakesbykat
    September 24, 2012

    Your photos really bring out the amazing colors-so vivid!

  14. roshni subudhi
    September 24, 2012

    very nice pics of presentation

    • Kiran
      September 24, 2012

      Thank you Roshni!

  15. Our Growing Paynes
    September 24, 2012

    We still have aubergines in our garden. I’ll have to try this. My husband wasn’t enjoying the grilled aubergines but he likes the spice profile you used so maybe this would work.

    • Kiran
      September 24, 2012

      That’s great – hope you enjoy it!

  16. dipitblack
    September 24, 2012

    Have one laying in my refrigerator. This is gonna be my meal tonight! Thanks for sharing it :).

    • Kiran
      September 24, 2012

      Brilliant! Good luck and enjoy 🙂

  17. apolloandme
    September 24, 2012

    Kiran – this recipe sounds and looks delicious! I myself have a bit of a fear of aubergines, and I think this just might be the perfect recipe to conquer that! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kiran
      September 24, 2012

      Thank you! I really hope it works for you – it doesn’t taste like any other aubergine dish I’ve had, and I hope you like it 🙂

  18. tableofcolors
    September 24, 2012

    This is must try! Sounds wonderful!

  19. Julia Rachel Barrett
    September 24, 2012

    Dang this looks lovely! And here I have a garden filled with eggplant!

    • Kiran
      September 24, 2012

      So great – hope you enjoy it 🙂

  20. Aärtï
    September 24, 2012

    Rêally lövëd the way you present ur recïpes and Thänkyöu aüñty for the extra tïps…

    • Kiran
      September 24, 2012

      That’s very kind Aarti! I appreciate your message and hope you enjoy!

  21. Pingback: Favorites for September | guavabelly

  22. csamom
    September 25, 2012

    Wow! Your descriptions and photos are so dramatic, I love it!. I think I am too timid to try cooking them directly on the burner, I might try this on the the grill when I get more eggplant.

    • Kiran
      September 25, 2012

      Thank you! Hope you give it a go 🙂

  23. erika
    September 25, 2012

    Yummm I love eggplant in almost any form and this sounds and looks DELICIOUS!

  24. grainmillsandjuicers
    September 25, 2012

    Thanks for the like and right back at you! Love you photos, recipes and creativity. Had no idea you could roast an Aubergine! It’s the same way we roast chiles in the Southwest. Holy Cow products are a blast.

  25. eideard
    September 26, 2012

    Have to try this, soon. And I will cook the aubergines over charcoal. We do lunches outdoors every weekend. And I make a traditional Italian caponata as side dish or to serve on pasta.

  26. df
    September 26, 2012

    Because I haven’t (yet!) had success in growing aubergines, I’ve neglected them in my kitchen, but this has reminded me of how much I love them! What a delicious looking treatment, and as ever, the words and pictures are divine!

  27. mredible
    September 26, 2012

    That looks quite a aubergine too. Not the standard supermarket ‘sponge’.
    Lovely.

  28. csamom
    September 27, 2012

    My daughter enjoyed the writing in this piece so much, she sent it to her language arts teacher to share.

    • Kiran
      September 27, 2012

      Wow! I’m so flattered 🙂 Thank you for sharing it – so glad your daughter enjoyed it!

  29. csamom
    September 27, 2012

    Reblogged this on csamom and commented:
    The writing and pictures in this recipe are spectacular, and it sounds like a wonderful alternative use for eggplant.

  30. katieatthekitchendoor
    September 27, 2012

    Wow, I love the rich colors in these pictures!! Stunning.

  31. trendbytes
    September 28, 2012

    This recipe sounds fantastic, and strangely enough, I purchased two huge aubergines yesterday not knowing why, and now I do! BTW, do you have a recipe for mango curry? I was in Chennai many years ago, and had it for lunch, and can not get the amazing flavor out of my head! I would like to make it for my teenage daughters…

    • Kiran
      September 28, 2012

      Thank you so much – will definitely see if I can do a mango curry for you 🙂

  32. Jina @ Soy and Ginger
    September 29, 2012

    Wow this looks absolutely amazing!!!!
    I second the notion for a mango curry recipe (thank you hehe)
    Love love love mangoes!
    The only way I’ve ever used them in cooking is to make mango-infused rice, so I’d love to branch out 😉

  33. Mary Ann Barton
    September 29, 2012

    Oh, my goodness — gorgeous photos of a truly beautiful vegetable! I’ve always enjoyed vegetables, but over the last year and a half, I’ve been making them a more important feature of my menus for health reasons. Now, thanks to photographer/chef bloggers like you, Kiran, I see vegetables as true jewels of the earth.

    • Kiran
      September 29, 2012

      That’s really exciting to hear – thank you 🙂 Happy veggie eating!

  34. pattyabr
    September 30, 2012

    I made baba ghanoush but I didn’t fire roasted my eggplant as beautifully as you. And your spices are so vibrant. I will have to try your recipe. Your pictures are wonderful 🙂

  35. settleandchase
    October 1, 2012

    YUM!

  36. EJ
    October 1, 2012

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I can’t wait to try this aubergine recipe — it looks divine.

  37. Isabelle
    October 2, 2012

    A real delight ! Aubergines, spices, scent and pictures. Soon on our table 😉 turmeric is the same as curcuma ?

  38. ballandsocketwellness
    October 2, 2012

    This dish looks amazing! I am always looking to try something different with my eggplants! And I looooveeee the mix of Indian spices. I think I’ll try this with your chai recipe the next rainy day. Thanks for the recipe and beautiful pictures!

    • Kiran
      October 2, 2012

      That’s so kind – thank you! Really hope you enjoy it!

  39. leogini
    October 6, 2012

    Love aubergine! Thanks for the great recipe! x

  40. mydeliciousmistakes
    October 17, 2012

    delish…. lovely imagery!!! 🙂

  41. Eileen
    October 23, 2012

    This is my favorite Indian dish. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  42. midihideaways
    October 28, 2012

    Hi Kiran, what a wonderful recipe and the photographs are making me feel very hungry!! I still have some aubergines growing in my garden, so I’ll be trying this out very soon! Thank you for stopping by my page at http://www.midihideaways.wordpress.com and the like!!

  43. Meghan
    November 8, 2012

    I just finished making this… it is better than any version of eggplant I have ever had. Thank you so much!
    -Meghan

    • Kiran
      November 8, 2012

      That’s really great to hear! Thank you for sharing that 🙂

  44. lolarugula
    March 6, 2013

    I’m so glad I finally found some time to explore your site – you have some amazing recipes and stunning photos!

    • Kiran
      March 7, 2013

      Thank you so much! Really nice to hear – your site is lovely too!

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2012 by in Aubergine, Autumn, cooking, food, indian, Photography, Recipe, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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