Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Baingan Di Dip (Eggplant Dip)


In the middle of the summer heat, thoughts turn to ways to cool yourself down. Though there are many Indian comfort foods to do that, like gol gappe or pani puri (wafer puffs in spicy water), chaat (spicy cubed potato salad), bhalle (lentil cakes in yogurt), rooh afza (a drink of fruits and herbs), mango ice cream and cool hindwana (watermelon); there are few salty snacks like dips that will do the trick, especially as Indians don’t have things like pita chips to dip with!!

Dips and chips aren’t very popular in the Punjab, as they are in the US where Indians of all types easily rush to them. Mediterranean like dips Baba Ghanoush and hummus are popular; just as salsa and guacamole are in the southern US. The closest Indians get are chutneys like pudina (mint) and imbli (tamarind) but these are condiments and not dips or raitas (yogurt sauce) which are usually eaten with rice or paranthas.

But the plump baingan (eggplant) is just the right versatile vegetable to turn into a spicy dip with an Indian twist to it. Baingans are very popular in North India where they are often cooked as baingan bhartha with lots of onions and oil. And this same vegetable can be made into a succulent dip that can be eaten with pita chips or small pieces of Italian bread.

Baingan dip is a very easy concoction of eggplant, onions and garlic with many herbs and spices. When left to cool in the fridge and served, it is a surprisingly popular addition to the appetizer table and really a hit on hot summer days!

1 large baingan (eggplant)
1 medium piyaaz (onion)
4 tbsp tael (vegetable or olive oil)
2 cloves lassan (garlic)
Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), fresh dhania (coriander)

1. Remove the top dandal (stem) off the eggplant, peel it and then cut it lengthwise into slices. Cut the slices into smaller 1.5 inch pieces.

2. Wash the pieces in cold water and let them drain in a strainer. It is very important to wash them otherwise the eggplant will start to turn dark.

3. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet, wok or kadai over medium heat, place the eggplant in it and mix till they are coated. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes. Check to see that the eggplant has become tender. If it has, then mash the eggplant with a large spoon.

4. Leave to cook for 2 more minutes, then take off the heat and let it cool for 30 minutes.

5. Peel the onions and garlic and then crush them in a mixer. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat and throw them in till they are brown. Take off the heat and let the mixture cool for 20 minutes.

6. After they are cool to touch, put the eggplant, onions and garlic in a blender and add the spices and coriander. Set to puree and run according to your taste.

7. Pour into a bowl and leave in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Serve with pita chips or small garlic bread.



Rice is a staple food for so many people, but it’s a pity that they make rice that sticks together in lumps and then is hard to serve. Some may say that it depends on the kind of rice you buy but really, the method of cooking it is the key.

Most people, especially those in a hurry, will just throw the rice right out of the package into a pot, boil it once, simmer and then serve it afterwards. This only allows all the starch to stay in the rice and make it stick. Although there are other ways to cook the rice to get separate kernels, a simple trick is to add a few drops of lemon or a teaspoon of oil to the rice and stir before boiling. You’ll be surprised to see how the grains come out separately!

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 (since renamed Faisalabad), 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.