The versatile aubergine or eggplant takes pride of place in our kitchen. And having shared one aubergine recipe this excellent vegetable surely deserves a bit more attention before we get side-tracked
Here large plump aubergines are roasted over a naked flame, sweated and scooped from the charred skin. The pulp is then seasoned with long-sautéed onions, garlic, chilli, coriander. a little turmeric and salt
Deeply smoky and creamy began bharta is great warm with flat-breads, a yoghurt cooler and a fresh crunchy salad. Eaten at room temperature it makes a delicious spread for a slice of good crusty bread
This recipe was given to us by our dear friends Shams and Alan on a visit to us in Spain a couple of years back. In fact cooking curry throughout was the condition for Shams even contemplating a visit.
Shams retired from her day job as head pharmacist for Redbridge trust in south-east England to devote herself to cooking.
She’s ubiquitous at festivals, weddings and other events She runs a private restaurant and cooking school where she teaches Pakistani and Indian cooking.
At the moment she and her husband Alan are doing takeaways – as well as distributing food to people in their Walthamstow community vulnerable to Covid-19. They were vegan when we last met just a few weeks ago. Are they still? Check them out at Sham’s kitchen
Smoked Began Bharti
- 3 large aubergines
- 4 large onions
- 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 2 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 bunch fresh coriander roughly chopped
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp oil I'm afraid I use extra virgin olive oil with everything - but you might prefer a more neutral tasting oil such as rapeseed / canola
Prepare the aubergines: You can do this in various ways
- Place the aubergines directly over a gas flame - my personal wont
- Place over charcoal or a wood fire - for the best taste
- Put into a very hot oven -
- Turn the aubergines as necessary to get them evenly charred.
- Place flame-roasted aubergines in a sandwich bag wrapped in a tea towel, letting them steam until cooked through. 45 minutes minutes is about right for me. The longer you leave them the smokier they'll taste. But be warned, they can taste too smoky and rather bitter if you leave them over-long
- Simply rest oven-roasted aubergines until they are cool enough to handle
- Peel away the skin, leaving bits of charred skin here and there and finely chop or mash the flesh with a fork. Set aside
Transform the onions: this stage is crucial to the flavour of the dish
- While the aubergines are cooling gently sauté the onions in a a couple of tablespoons of any neutral-tasting oil. After 15 minutes add the garlic and a large pinch of salt. Continue cooking for further 10-15 minutes, splashing in a little water as necessary to stop them from burning. This step is crucial to the flavour of the dish. Don't lose patience. The final rich sweetness of the onions will blow your socks off. It really is worth it
- You're on the home run: stir in the powdered spices and salt and sauté for a minute or two, stirring continuously
- Add in the chopped aubergines, season with salt and warm through. Sprinkle on some chopped fresh coriander and serve