Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Baingan da Bhartha (Spicy Eggplant Puree)

Baingan da Bhartha (Spicy Eggplant Puree)



Eggplant are very popular in India and especially in the North where the most popular dish is baingan bhartha which is cooked with lots of onions; some people even add peas (fresh shelled ones are best) for an added taste.

The plant that bears the eggplant is native to the Indian Subcontinent but it is widely available all over the world and cooked in many ways. There are many varieties of the plant that produce different sizes, shapes and color, though typically purple. Eggplants have all the B vitamins, and are high in B9 (folate) as well as in calcium (1%), phosphorus (3%) and potassium (5%).

For this recipe choose a large round eggplant that is not heavy: a heavy one means that it has a lot of seeds. A slightly tender, round eggplant is the best, but most times you will find enlongated ones. Still, choose the one that is tender but does not collapse when squeezed. Also, the green shoot (dandal) should not have any dark spots on it.


• 1 large round baingan

• 2 medium pyaaz (onion)

• 2 medium tamater (to mato) – soft ones are best

• Some small shelled mut ter (peas) (if desired)

• 2 tablespoons of veg etable or olive oil

• Spices: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), garam masala


1. Place a few drops of oil on the eggplant and smear it all around the skin.

2. The traditional way to roast the eggplant is over an open flame – in the old days it was over an ingithi (bucket charcoal stove) – that allowed the eggplant to take on a smoked, roasted flavor. Now, for best results, cook over a gas flame.

3. If you do not have a gas stove but only have an electric stove, place the eggplant in the oven on a metal tray and set on bake at 450 deg till it is soft in the middle. The eggplant will cook faster if you slice it in half. For ease of clean up, you can wrap the eggplant in aluminum foil. The cooked eggplant will shed water so use a deep tray.

4. You can also cook the eggplant in the microwave in a deep tray; again slice it in half, set the power on full and adjust the timer for 10 minutes till it is cooked.

5. Remove the eggplant from the fire, oven or microwave and peel off the roasted skin. Be careful as it will be hot! We often place the roasted eggplant in a bowl of water in order to cool it down fast.

6. Cut the green shoot off, leaving some meat on it. Cut the rest of the meat into quarters and then mash it, making sure it is not stringy.

7. Heat the oil in a skillet, wok or kadai. Cut the onion into small pieces and saute them in the oil till they are brown, then add the cut tomatoes and then add the spices (turmeric is usually not used in Punjabi bhartha).

8. Pour the mashed eggplant and the green shoot (dandal) in the masala (also the peas, if desired) and cook over low heat for some time. When you start to see some oil rise to the sides, turn the heat off; cover and let it stay for 10 minutes.

9. Uncover the skillet and if you want, sprinkle with garam masala though it is not necessary since the bhartha has so many onions. This dish is best eaten with roti. It is an honor to get the cooked dandal and remove the cooked meat off it. When thoroughly cooked, the green shoot can also be eaten and is delicious.


Shakuntla Malhotra recently returned to Houston after a six-week vacation in her homeland India. She 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 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 mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.