Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Jaldi se Baingan da Bhartha (Easy-to-Make Spicy Eggplant Puree)

Recipe in 1

By popular demand from many readers, below is a reprint of Mama’s Baingan da Bhartha recipe, which is fast becoming a popular dish in restaurants and for caterings. It is reprinted with some additional information and directions.

Eggplant are among the most popular vegetables cooked all over the world, but the main reason for its widespread appeal is that, when sliced and cooked, they can soak in the taste of the sauce or spices while the outside skin holds the pulp together.

In the Punjab, the large, round or elongated plump eggplants are used to make the popular bhartha dish and the small ones or the long ones are usually cooked with potatoes and some onions. In other parts of Indian, they make a dish similar to bhartha, but they either puree it in a blender or they add yogurt or even sugar to it. The traditional Punjabi bhartha is very simple and relies on the sautéed onions, a cubed tomato and a tardka of spices to bring out its full flavor and aroma.

But the traditional recipe for bhartha is very time consuming and many people get put off by the time it takes to first roast the eggplant and then peel the hot skin before preparing the dish. It also makes a mess of the oven or stove! But, they still crave for Punjabi bhartha, especially as it is not usually available in restaurants and if it is, it’s not prepared the dame way.

I have found another, much easier and faster way to make bhartha and also not use so much electricity or effort and save on the messiness. You don’t get the tiny specs of burnt skin and there is no difference in the taste, though you do lose the smoky, roasted smell.



1 large round baingan (eggplant)
2 medium pyaaz (onion)
2 medium tamater (tomato) – soft ones are best
Some small shelled mutter (peas) (if desired)
4 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), garam masala



1. Cut the top dandal (green shoots) off along with a little of the meat and keep to one side to use later.
2. Peel the eggplant then cut it lengthwise into slices. Now cut the slices into smaller 1.5 inch pieces.
3. 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.
4. Heat the oil in a skillet, wok or kadai, place the eggplant in it with the dandal 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 and take the dandal out to use later.
5. From this point on, the recipe is the same as the traditional bhartha one.
6. Cut the onions into small pieces and sauté 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).
7. Pour the mashed eggplant and the 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.
8. 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 considered an honor to get the cooked dandal and remove the cooked meat off it.




It’s true that vegetarian cooking is time consuming because of the preparation – cleaning, cutting and washing – but this can be reduced if you choose the vegetables the right way. If they are too ripe or too hard, the dish you are cooking will not taste good or appear appetizing. Or if they have too many seeds or are too large – like a squash – the dish will become mushy.

For the bhartha 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 best, or even an elongated one, but choose the one that does not collapse when squeezed. Also, make sure that the green shoot (dandal) does not have any dark spots on it, which means the eggplant is too old.


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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