Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice


Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice
Vegetables, Indian

Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice

This dish is spicy. Genuinely so. Lessen the quantity of serrano/jalapeno if spice irks you. Add more if you are a spice freak. Also know – I use WAY more of the other spices listed than most any other version of this recipe you will find. This is a powerfully flavored version. Also know – it is an AMAZING dieter’s dish because the only thing in it with any calorie count work mentioning is the 2 tablespoons of olive oil – and this recipe makes an ENORMOUS amount of this stuff. I bet it could feed 6 or 8 folks – what with the rice addition and all. A cup of eggplant has 20 calories. 2 TBS of olive oil have – GREAT CRIPES – I just looked it up!! 2 TBS of olive oil is 240 calories! Jeez. That explains a LOT about my ass & thighs. Ok -still – Let’s call this 6 cups of eggplant & 2 TBS of olive oil – for a total of 360 calories for the ENTIRE RECIPE. And it is delicious!

Again – this will make a LOT of this dish. Be prepared for yummy leftovers.

One final note – broiling the eggplant the day before or way in advance (so they can cool) is very helpful, but not necessary.


2 Cups Basmati Rice

5 medium eggplant

2 medium onions – diced

3 inch cube of fresh ginger – or 4 TBS jarred, minced ginger (fresh is better)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS cumin SEEDS (not ground cumin)

1 large jalapeno – seeded & diced

2 large serrano chiles - seeded & diced

4 garlic cloves – crushed

4 medium tomatoes – diced

2 TBS garam masala (recipe here – if you cannot find it made:

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt

1 bunch fresh cilantro

Extra tomato or red bell pepper (pictured above) – diced very fine for garnish. Garnish is important with this dish because it is really little more than a dark mush. It needs prettifying more than your average bear. Extra cilantro – chopped fine – can also be nice – instead or in addition.


Prick your eggplants all over with a fork. Line a cookie sheet with foil & place the eggplant on it & into the oven. Broil the eggplant about 5 inches from the flame – turning OFTEN – until they are bursting & blackened on all sides. DO NOT FORGET TO PRICK THE EGGPLANTS or they WILL explode inside your oven & that will be one crime scene you will not want to clean up.

It might take 20-30 minutes – depending on the size of your eggplant & your broiler. You kinda can’t OVER do this – though you can under do it. Err on the side of charring. It adds flavor & makes removing the skin WAY easier!

Let the eggplant cool until they are safe to handle. HOURS of cooling is best – unless you have Grandma hands & you are impervious to scalding hot eggplant juice.

Cut the green cap end off the eggplant & remove all the flesh from the charred skin.

Roughly chop this eggplant up & set it aside.

Heat the olive oil up in a pan. When it is hot – add the cumin seeds. Beware – they will sizzle & pop & some will jump out of the pan at you. Ouch.

Once these are fragrant - about a minute – add the chopped onion & fry until they are translucent & soften. Add the garlic & ginger & serrano/jalapenos.

Saute this for another minute or two.

Add the chopped tomatoes.

Stir this a minute then add the garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric & salt.

Add the chopped eggplant. Stir. Chop the cilantro & add it to the mix & blend well. Remove from heat.

Using a food processor or a blender – puree the entire mixture. Return the puree to the pan to keep it warm on very low heat. The pureeing isn’t essential but I think it delivers a more pleasing result and more completely fuses the flavors. If you are unable to puree or choose not to – simply be sure to chop all the ingredients very finely before adding them to the recipe – especially the eggplant. Hunks of soft eggplant can bum some people out.



2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan. Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting. I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old. You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent. After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended. Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil. Use less water for firmer rice. Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you. Remove from heat. Fluff with a fork.

Serve the rice on individual plates. Top with the Baingan Bharta & garnish with either finely diced tomato, red bell pepper – or extra cilantro.