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


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.

I have already given the traditional recipe for bhartha and I realized that many people would get put off by the time it takes to prepare since the eggplant has first to be roasted and then the skin removed before preparing the dish. It can also make a mess of the oven or stove! But, they still craved for bhartha, especially as it is not usually available in restaurants.

So, with a little experimenting, 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, although what is lost is the roasted smell and flavor.

As for any 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, the green shoot (dandal) should not have any dark spots on it.

1 large round baingan
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: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), garam masala

1. Cut the top dandal 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 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.
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. When thoroughly cooked, the green shoot can also be eaten and is delicious.

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 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.



Everyone has a favorite knife to cut with, maybe a different one for meats, another for vegetables; maybe a third for large fruits and yet another for large loaves of breads. You get used to them and don’t feel comfortable using another knife.

So the one thing that can really irritate a cook is to find that the knife has become dull with use which can be easily remedied with a sharpener, although when my grandson did so, the knife became too sharp. When you cut vegetables by hand, this can be a liability!!

In India, homes do not have dishwashers, so when washing knives we are careful to do so in the sink. Here in the US, people casually throw knives into the dishwasher. But, as a lifelong cook, I have found that putting knives in the dishwasher makes the blades duller over time, and I can feel the difference. My advice is never to place your cutting knives – especially your favorite ones – in the dishwasher. Wash these gently by hand and let them drip dry.