Friday, October 7, 2011

Bharva Baigan (stuffed eggplants)

Eggplants have a meaty texture and hold up very well to stuffing and frying process. This is one of my favorite ways to cook baigan. Small Indian eggplants are the best for this recipe. Some use the long ones, but I prefer the small baigans as they are not bitter.
In India many versions of  this recipe can be seen depending on what ingredients go in the stuffing. This version here is the north Indian version. Takes a bit of effort and time but totally worth it. I stuff the eggplants with the dry spice blend and then cook it in an onion, ginger, garlic and tomato based gravy. I make my own dry blend and the recipe link is given below. You can also buy a ready to use tava fry masala. Just before serving I spoon the tomato gravy roughly inside the eggplants and serve the rest on the side. This procedure makes it easy to cook for a crowd when you have 20-25 eggplants.

8-10 small Indian eggplants
1 tbsp oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 large tomatoes, pureed
3-4 tbsp tava fry masala (recipe)
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
  1. Wash and wipe the eggplants dry. Keep the stem intact and give a crisscross slit to the eggplant taking care not to separate the segments. 
  2. Sprinkle the insides with salt and stuff generously with the tava fry masala. 
  3. While the salted and spiced eggplants are resting, make the onion stuffing. In a pan heat 2-3 tbsp oil and fry onion, ginger and garlic to a golden brown color. Add tomato puree along with red chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. (Be cautious about how much salt you add in this mixture since eggplants are already salted
  4. Fry the stuffing while stirring frequently till the mixture leaves oil on the side. 
  5. In the same pan add about half a cup of water and bring to boil. Simmer and gently lower the stuffed eggplants into it. 
  6. Cover and cook till done. Turn the eggplants every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking on all sides while spooning the gravy over them as they cook. If the tomato gravy dries up too much sprinkle some water to avoid burning. This process takes about 15-20 minutes on low heat.
  7. When the stuffed eggplants are ready, plate them and spoon a little tomato gravy in each. Top the dish with the rest of the gravy. 
  8. Serve it sprinkled with fresh coriander accompanied by roti or paratha.

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