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Rinse the eggplant in water and then pat dry with a kitchen napkin. Cut the eggplant from its base up-to an inch away from the stem without breaking it apart.
Cut on four sides or directions as shown in the step-by-step guide above. The eggplant has to be whole when you place it on the stove-top.
Pull apart the cut sides gently and check for worms or any black spots. Discard the eggplant if you see any worms in it.
If the eggplant looks clean and without worms, then proceed further. Optionally you can spread a light layer of oil all over it.
Keep it for roasting on direct flame on the stove-top. Keep the flame to medium-low or medium.
Note that as the eggplant cooks some of the juices and drippings will fall which you can wipe later. I don’t recommend placing or covering the sides of the stove-top burner with aluminum foil as they can burn and be dangerous.
You can also grill the eggplant in the oven. But then do note that you won’t get the smoky flavor in the eggplant.
Secure the eggplant between tongs and keep on turning it after 2 to 3 minutes on the flame, so that it is evenly cooked.
Roast the eggplant till its completely cooked and tender. With a fork or knife check the doneness. The knife should slide easily in aubergine without any resistance. Remove the eggplant and immerse in a bowl of water till it cools.
You can also do the dhungar technique of infusing charcoal smoky flavor in the eggplant. This is an optional step. Use natural charcoal for this method. Carefully heat a small piece of charcoal on flame with the help of tongs or by placing it in a wired metal fire-proof rack above the flame, till it becomes smoking hot and red.
Make small cuts on the roasted eggplant with a knife. Place the red hot charcoal in the same plate where the roasted aubergine is kept. Add a few drops of oil on the charcoal. The charcoal would begin to smoke.
As soon as smoke begins to release from the charcoal, cover the entire plate tightly with a large bowl. Allow the charcoal smoke to get infused for 1 to 1.5 minutes.
Alternatively, you can also do this dhungar method once the baingan bharta is cooked, just like the way we do for dal tadka.
Whether you have charcoal smoked the eggplant or not, peel the charred skin when it cools. Chop finely or you can even mash it.
In a kadai or frying pan or skillet, heat oil. Then add finely chopped onions and garlic.
Stirring often, sauté the onions till they soften and translucent. Don't brown them.
Add chopped green chillies and chopped tomatoes. Mix well.
Sauté the tomatoes stirring often, till the oil starts separating from the mixture. The tomatoes should become pulpy, soft and oil should release from the masala mixture.
Now add the red chili powder. Stir and mix again.
Add the chopped or mashed eggplant. Mix thoroughly.
Season with salt. Stirring often saute for some 4 to 5 minutes on low to medium-low heat.
Finally stir in the coriander leaves or garnish bharta with them. Serve baingan bharta with phulka, roti or chapati. It goes well even with bread, toasted or grilled bread and plain rice or jeera rice.
You can also pair it with any North Indian meal or mains.