Aubergine curry – known as Baingan Bharta in Hindi – is the most deliciously smokey, garlicky and richly juicy curry you’ll come across. The aubergine is cooked directly over a flame until the skin is burnt and blackened and the flesh inside is tender and juicy. It’s then mashed and cooked with copious amounts of garlic, bursts of tomato, and lots of delicious whole cumin seeds. It’s spicy but full of flavour and melts in your mouth.
Every household in India has their own way of making Baingan Bharta. The recipe varies across states, whether that be Punjab, Gujarat or Maharashtra. The Marathi name is Vangyachi Bharit, whereas in Gujarat it’s called Ringan No Oro – they are all variations of the same dish with subtle differences. My partner prefers a more ‘juicy’ curry with a little more gravy to mop up with chapatis, but some people like theirs to be drier, which is the more traditional way of serving it. Either way, the recipe is totally adaptable to your tastes!
Although not traditional, I’ve chosen to add spinach as the flavours of roasted aubergine, spinach and garlic marrying together is absolutely sublime. It’s a great way to get extra greens into your diet and provides amazing nutritional benefits as well. Baingan Bharta is an easy midweek meal, and when we have extra spinach in the house some always gets chucked in!
Tender, juicy Aubergine flesh is smoked to perfection, then cooked with the freshest of ingredients. That’s Baingan Bharta – an Indian classic.
What Diets is this Suitable for?
This recipe is suitable for anyone who is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free and Gluten-Free. It’s really an excellent people pleaser that’s bursting with flavour!
Not only is Baingan Bharta mouth-wateringly good, it’s also really simple to cook. It’s a basic home-style curry which means that the spicing isn’t too complex and the method is straight-forward. This dish was one of the first things I cooked when I learnt how to make Indian food. It’s been a staple in our mealtimes ever since. Do give it a go!
If you’re looking for some more delicious Vegan, Gluten-Free and Nut-Free vegetable curries which are bursting with flavour, do check out my Patta Gobi Sabji recipe – Cabbage and Spring Green Curry!
Baingan Bharta - Flame Roasted Aubergine Curry with Spinach
- 1 Large Aubergine
- 1.5 tsp Sunflower Oil or Ghee (for non-vegans)
- 1/2 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 8 Small-Medium Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Medium Red Onion, finely chopped
- 2 Thin Indian Green Chillis, finely chopped
- 2 Medium Salad Tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder
- 80g Spinach, roughly chopped
- 100ml – 200ml water (optional)
- Fresh Coriander, finely chopped to garnish (optional)
- Roast the aubergine*. With a knife, make around 10 small slits all around the aubergine.** Place the aubergine directly onto the gas burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Roast it for 8-10 minutes, then turn the heat off and very carefully (use tongs if you have to) turn it over. Next, turn the heat back to medium-high and roast for another 8-10 minutes until the skin is blackened and coming away from the aubergine and the juices are slightly leaking out. Do open a window because it gets smokey!
- Once roasted, gently lift the aubergine onto a plate, wait for it to cool just a little, and then begin to peel away the skin. Discard. Remove all the skin and then thoroughly mash the aubergine.
- To cook the curry, heat oil or ghee in a large kadai or non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds to the pan – they should splutter and pop immediately. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a few seconds until they pop, then immediately add the garlic followed by the onion. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions just start to caramelize. Add the chopped green chilli and cook for a few seconds.
- Next add the tomatoes and salt to the pan and mix everything thoroughly. Cook for around 10-15 minutes, or until the tomatoes get mushy and the oil releases from the sides. Do stir occasionally so the mixture doesn’t stick.
- Now add the spices to the pan and mix thoroughly. Cook for 30 seconds, and then add the aubergine and spinach. Mix thoroughly and cook for around 1-2 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted into the curry.
- You can serve the curry as it is now as a dry dish, or you can add 100ml water and cook it down for a little extra juiciness. You can also, like me, add around 200ml and cook it for a further 5 minutes until reduced slightly but with a bit of wetness remaining – my partner likes a little bit extra of the ‘juices’ as it tastes great when eating with a chapati.
- Serve with chopped coriander on top and fresh flat-breads. To elevate the dish to the next level, add a dollop of ghee on top of the serving bowl before eating. Skip this step if vegan.
Note: If you don’t have a gas hob, you can roast the aubergine on a barbecue or under the grill. Simply roast until the skin is black and peeling away.
Tip: For extra flavour, set aside 4 of the garlic cloves and gently crush them. Insert into the slits of the aubergine and then proceed to roast. This infuses the flesh with a lovely flavour, but is optional.
How to Serve Baingan Bharta?
Baingan Bharta tastes amazing served with any kind of Indian flat-breads! I would recommend either puffy chapatis or garlic and coriander naans, although the combination of my spicy potato stuffed kulcha and aubergine curry would also be incredible.
Great side dishes for Baingan Bharta would be a lovely Dal Tadka, Garlic Dal or Dal Palak. You can also serve it alongside some cooling Raita and Papad to reduce the spiciness a little bit. To go all out, serve it traditionally with the Indian yoghurt drink called Salted Lassi!
As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comments down below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you give this recipe a try I would love to know what you think. Please take a photo and tag @ohmyvegofficial on Instagram or send it to any of my personal media accounts!