This classic Indian dish tastes like the Mediterranean dish babaganoush meets Mexican salsa dish. Baigan means eggplant or brinjal and bharith or Bhartha means mixture. There are various ways to make baigna bhartha. My mother made this uncooked version which was always a super hit with my friends.
I have made a few changes of my own to convert it to an appetizer dip.
1 large brinjal or eggplant
1 bunch spring onion
1 small red onion
2-3 green chillies (optional)
2 medium sized tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro or dhaniya patta
1 tsp paprika or red chilli powder
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad daal (optional)
2 pinches aseophotida (optional)
1 tsp turmeric (optiona)
2 tsp salt (or per taste)
The traditional way to grill the brinjal or eggplant is to put some oil on the skin and then put it on open fire stove until the top skin is completely burnt. Turn the eggplant around on the fire so that it cooks from all the sides. Once done, let the eggplant cool and peel off the burnt skin. Use the cooked flesh for the recipe. This process gets very messy and I have discovered another way to cook it in the microwave.
Cut the eggplant (brinjal) in half and place each half in microwave safe dish with the cut side facing down. Pour about 4 tbsp water in the bowl to prevent the eggplant from excessive drying. Microwave for 10 minutes. The eggplant cooks and shrivels. Microwave it for additional 5 minutes if necessary. Once the eggplant cools, scoop out the cooked flesh using a spoon.
You can also cook it in the oven, although I have never tried it. I prefer the microwave way.
Finely chop the cooked eggplant flesh, onion, spring onion, tomatoes, cilantro (dhaniya) and mix it all.
Add salt and paprika. Set it for at least 30 minutes. You can skip the next step and eat the bhartha with roti or enjoy as a dip with crackers.
In a pan, heat oil. Give a vertical slit to the green chillies. When the oil is hot, pop the mustard seeds, add turmeric, asephotida, urad daal and the green chillies. Mix this oil mixture with the bhartha.
Enjoy as an appetizer with crackers or eat it with chapathi.
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