Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Aloo Baingan (Potatoes and Eggplant)

This is a simple Punjabi recipe that combines the much loved potato with the tenderness of an eggplant in a sautéed dish that cooks fast and goes well with hot roti. It is quite tasty and can be eaten with some yogurt or pickles to enhance the flavor. So, by popular demand, below is a reprint of Mama’s Aloo Baingan recipe, with some additional comments and directions.

Eggplant are very popular in India and especially so in the North where they are generally cooked in only a few variants, with the most popular being bhartha (rough pureed eggplant) or the dish that is presented here, aloo baingan (sautéed potatoes and eggplant).

The plant that bears the eggplant is native to the Indian Subcontinent but it is now widely grown all over the world and the fruit is cooked in many ways. India is the world’s second largest producer of eggplants after China and Egypt is a distant third. They are also called aubergine or brinjal, depending on which part of the world you are in.

There are many varieties of the plant that produce different sizes, shapes and color, though typically purple. The small variety, sold in grocery stores here as “Indian eggplant” are the ones used for this recipe as they provide the best taste and consistency, although this dish can be made with the large, round eggplants cut into pieces. You may try it that way and will notice the difference in overall presentation and flavor.

On a healthy note, eggplants have all the B vitamins, and are high in B9 (folate) as well as in calcium (1%), phosphorus (3%) and potassium (5%). They are relatively low in carbohydrates, sugar and fiber, which makes them an excellent complement for the starchy potato!  

Eggplants are capable of absorbing lots of fats and sauces, which makes for some rich dishes, though salting makes them absorb less oil. As some of the raw fruit may have a slightly bitter taste, salting, rinsing and draining the sliced eggplant improves the taste, softens it and reduces the amount of fat it will absorb, though most commonly available eggplants do not need this treatment.

1 lb small desi baingan (small Indian eggplant)

1 lb aloo (potatoes) (small round are preferable)

1 large pyaaz (onion)

2 medium tamater (tomato) – soft ones are best

1 medium clump of adrak (ginger root)

1 medium kernel of lasan (garlic)

2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil

Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric) and sukha dhania powder (dried coriander seed powder), garam masala2 cups of pani (water)

Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric), dhania (coriander), garam masala

Cut the eggplants and potatoes lengthwise and let them soak in water so that they don’t turn dark.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet, wok or kadai. Cut the onion, ginger and garlic into small pieces and brown them in the oil. Now add the diced tomatoes. Add the
turmeric, pepper and coriander powder and stir for a while till the mixture has a nice consistency and aroma.

Drain the eggplant and potatoes, add to the skillet and stir well to coat them with the masala and add salt, to your taste. Do not add extra water, the vegetables will cook in their own steam. Cover the skillet well and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Check to see that they are tender and stir gently to make sure they are sticking to the bottom. Turn the heat to very low and then let cook covered in their own steam for 10 more minutes.

Uncover the skillet and sprinkle with garam masala and let it sit covered for a while to let the taste and aroma of the garama masala seep through. This dish is best eaten with hot roti or naan.


Many young cooks leave their cut vegetables aside in open containers while they prepare the curries or other ingredients. In some cases, especially with eggplants, cauliflower, mushrooms and potatoes, they are often disappointed to see that these have turned brown in a short period of time.  

When cooking with eggplant, once it is cut and left open, the flesh will start to oxidize and turn brown and eventually black. It is for this reason that I suggest placing the cut vegetable in a bowl of water so that the flesh remains clean and fresh. Just drain the water before you decide to cook them.


 mamas recipe inside3

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India (since renamed Faisalabad) before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her late-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share her delectable Punjabi recipes for future generations.