Posted on October 5, 2020 at 1:00 PM by Madhu Gadia
October 5, 2020
The Incredible Edible Eggplant
(Recipe: Roasted Eggplant Bharta (Mashed Eggplant)
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Hope you are staying safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic! I try to do all the right things, wear a mask in public, wash hands frequently, listen to news only once a day, eat healthfully, exercise, and try not to worry about the unknown, but it's still overwhelming. How about you? Among all the obvious, please try to do something fun and happy, such as watching a comedy show online, or whatever makes you smile or laugh out loud. Laughter is the best medicine.
Well, one thing for sure, we're all in the kitchen a lot. I've been trying out some different recipes, Indian as well as non-Indian. I have made more desserts than ever, even more than when the kids were home. On a healthy note, I watch my portions, so I can "make my cake and eat it too."
Optimizing the Freezer
Over the years, I have learned to use my freezer beyond purchased foods. I know what prepared dishes freeze well and what should not be frozen; for example, eggplant dishes can be frozen but not cauliflower subji (prepared cauliflower curry). I now try to include freezer tips in my recipes; great convenience.
Eggplant, Aubergine, Brinjal, or Baingun
The name eggplant is the popular name in North America. It is known as aubergine in Europe, and in India, it is called brinjal or baingun. It appears the word "eggplant" was given to white, egg-shaped vegetable (for more facts, see Wikipedia).
The vegetable species is believed to have originated in India since prehistoric times. It is prevalent in all of Asia. In 2018, China and India combined accounted for 87% of the world production of eggplants.
Eggplants come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. This summer, at the farmers market, I tried a couple of different colored eggplants. They cook and taste about the same, with some subtle differences. The most common eggplants are purple. Hence the eggplant color.
But the eggplant shapes matter. The long eggplants, aka Japanese eggplants, small round eggplants, and the standard large succulent eggplants are used for different dishes. Indians love eggplant and cook it many ways from curries to pickles. You will find a variety of eggplant dishes in The Indian Vegan Kitchen.
Pick a Perfect Eggplant
It is important to start with a good firm eggplant. You want an eggplant with smooth, shiny skin, uniform color, and heavy for its size. Lightly press a finger against the skin; it should bounce back. If it leaves an imprint, the eggplant is too ripe or old. Choose smaller eggplants as they tend to be sweeter, less bitter, have thinner skin, and fewer seeds.
The male eggplants tend to have fewer seeds and less bitter than female eggplants. To sex an eggplant, look at the indentation at the bottom. If it's deep and shaped like a dash, it's a female. If it's shallow and round, it's a male.
Cut the eggplant just when ready to cook it. Freshly-cut eggplant, once exposed to the air, quickly oxidizes and turns black. Black eggplant can ruin the appearance of a dish.
Eggplants are nutrient-dense and low in calories. They are high in fiber and antioxidants. They are associated with many potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease to helping with blood sugar control and weight loss.
The bottom line – enjoy them because they are delicious and good for you.
Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia, RD
Eggplants are incredibly versatile and fit well into many dishes. You will find a variety of eggplant dishes in The Indian Vegan Kitchen. Here are I am sharing two recipes, both made with the large eggplant.
Curried Eggplant (Baingun) – click to see video and recipe.
Roasted Mashed Eggplant (Baingun Bharta)
Roasted Mashed Eggplant (Baingan Bharta)
Eggplant Bharta is one of the most popular ways to cook eggplant. The best way to bring out the flavor is by grilling the eggplant until the skin is charred, giving the eggplant a smoky flavor. The charcoaled skin is discarded and the tender pulp of the eggplant is spiced to perfection.
In the summer, I often buy several fresh eggplants from the farmers market, grill them, remove the pulp, and freeze it. I can then turn it into bharta in a jiffy.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cook Time: 60 Minutes
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
2 teaspoons green chiles, finely chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.The eggplant can be grilled or baked in the oven: Preheat grill or the oven to 450°F.
2. For grill: Cover the grill slats with aluminum foil and cook eggplant on 30 -40 minutes, turning once or twice.
For oven: Lightly oil the eggplant, place in a baking tray, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice.
The skin of the eggplant will become dark brown to almost burned. Place eggplants in a bowl and cover with a lid for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, slice eggplant in half, lengthwise, scrape the pulp from the skin. Keep all the juices that come out of the eggplant. Discard the skin. Mash the pulp with a fork and set aside. (You’ll have about 1 cup pulp.)
3. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and cook for a few seconds until golden brown. Add chopped onion and cook until light brown. Add tomatoes and green chiles—cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Mash the tomatoes with the back of the spoon or a potato masher, making a sauce-like consistency. Stir in coriander powder, fennel powder, and salt.
4. Add the mashed eggplant and stirring in a folding motion. Reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. It’s ready when the eggplant appears shiny as the oil rises to the top. Transfer to a serving container and serve hot.
Note: If desired, especially in summer (eggplant season), grill or bake several eggplants at a time, remove the skin, and make pulp. Divide the eggplant into 1-cup portions and freeze up to 6 months. Thaw and follow the steps 2 to 4.
Makes: 4 servings Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 108; Total Fat: 7g (Saturated Fat: 1g); Carbohydrate: 11g; Protein: 2g; Fiber: 5g; Sodium: 296mg
Reprinted from: The Indian Vegan Kitchen by Madhu Gadia, MS, RD