What is bhartha?
Both my mom and dad wax lyrical about the bharta that my ‘dadi’, paternal grandmother, used to make. They both claim that they have never tasted a bharta as good as hers and probably never will. That’s high praise considering that my mother is an excellent cook. Apparently my dadi’s recipe for bharta was simple in the extreme, made using only a few ingredients, albeit all freshly picked from our farm in Punjab and cooked over a wood-fired burner called ‘chulha‘. I can barely hope to compete with my grand mother but I have been told that my bharta is not bad. I cooked it recently for a friend from America and he told me that this is the best egg plant dish he has ever tasted anywhere in the world. That made me SO happy!
I hope you will give it a try. Let me know if you do!
Egg plant after grilling
- 2 large egg plants
- 4-5 medium size onions 2-3 inches in diameter, chopped
- 3-4 medium size tomatoes 2-3 inches in diameter, chopped
- 4-5 green chillies chopped
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 inch fresh ginger
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 handful fresh green coriander leaves
- 1-2 tsp garam masala
- 1-2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbsp cooking oil ghee or smoked mustard oil preferably
Roast the egg plant on the grill or the gas burner so that the skin is blackened - see picture below.
Once the egg plant cools down, remove the skin and remove any seeds.
Make sure that there are no charred bits by washing it in water. Wash it gently as it can easily disintegrate.
Cut the eggplant into smaller pieces or mash it.
Heat the oil in a wide pan or a wok and add cumin seeds once oil is hot.
Immediately afterwards, add ginger and green chillies and red chilli powder.
Add onions after few seconds.
Fry onions on high heat, till the onions are translucent; about 4-5 minutes. Make sure not to overcook onions.
Add tomatoes, fry for 2-3 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium high and add the egg plant.
Mix in garam masala and coriander powder.
Stir for 1-2 minutes and it's ready to be served.
Tip: It's best to cook hartha with egg plants which are not overly-ripe as it will have seeds. If the egg plant has seeds, remove them from the roasted flesh for a better tasting bhartha.