Thursday, September 01, 2005

My Bhartha is Smarter

So just what did I end up making with those adorably petite eggplants from the farmers' market?

At the same time that I roasted the red peppers last evening, I roasted the halved baby eggplants. While the peppers cooled, I scooped the eggplant mush from their skins and set them aside to add to the dish I had already started simmering: baingan bhartha.

I don't often get baingan bhartha at Indian restaurants because too often the eggplant gets too oily and has too strong a taste. Some places do it exceptionally well, however, which is why I still like the dish (if done well).

I'd been eyeing the recipe for "royal" baingan bhartha in my well-loved copy of The Indian Vegetarian for some time, but I never wanted to broil the eggplants and never convinced myself to try just roasting the vegetables. Until last night, when I arranged them on the roasting pan (with no extra oil) alongside the peppers.

The dish starts with sauteed garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds (though I had only powder left), then adds onions, tomatoes, and a host of spices. Once that simmers down to almost a paste, you add the eggplant, and after a bit, you add some cream for a lovely, silky texture when you eat this mushy dish.

Happily, though I fudged in a couple of ingredients, I got the spices exactly at the temperature I enjoy most (hot enough to cause your forehead to get a tad damp, but not break out in a sweat), and the conservative amount of oil I used in the pan simply enhanced the creaminess of the dish instead of overpowering it. And the overall flavors?


So yes, there is a smarter way to make this dish at home and still have it taste incredible for a late summer dinner.

(Oh, and lunch the next day, too.)


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