Friday, 17 May 2013

Baingan da barta/Trinidadian Baigan choka/Kathirikai pachadi (Aubergine/Eggplant curry)

Like many children, Anjalie, also turned her nose up when we tried to give her aubergine for the first time. It took her some time to get used to the texture. We found she was more accepting of this spicy mashed curry made with aubergine. We first introduced this to her as a dip with rotis when she was around 7 months with reduced spice level and then slowly increased the spice level as she grew older. It is totally delicious and the full flavour of roasted aubergine is enhanced by the tangy tomatoes and complimented by the spices. This particular dish can be found in the cuisines from all over the world, including India, Trinidad, middle East, Greek, etc., and has many variations depending on the region. In Trinidad, at my in-laws house, this dish is typically eaten for breakfast with sada roti and is much loved. The Trinidadian version of this curry at my in-laws is made without involving any of the Indian spices and is spiced up with just fresh habernero peppers, yum! In my home in the south of India, we make this curry with plain yoghurt base which is another yummy variation of this versatile dish. This goes great with rotis, pitas, toasts, rice dishes, fresh veggies or anything that takes your fancy. Here are three variations of the recipe (Baingan bharta. Trinidad Baigan Choka and South Indian kathirikkai pachadi) and I hope you and your family get to enjoy this very soon.

You will need:
2 medium sized aubergine/egg plant
1 medium onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger
2-3 medium tomatoes (peeled & mashed)
2 fresh green chillies for adults (optional) -slit in the middle
1/4 tsp mustard seeds (skip for children less than 1 year)
1/4 tsp cumin seeds (skip for children less than 1 year)
salt and black pepper to taste
coriander leaves &/or curry leaves for garnish
2 tsp oil

Spices (for Indian version):
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp clove powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp paprika or red chilli powder (for adults)
1 tsp butter/ghee
1 tsp lemon juice

Wash aubergines, but, keep the stalk intact. Roast aubergines, one at a time, in medium flame or on a barbecue grill.

Roast until the skin gets charred and crackles. You can roast on a barbecue too for great flavour. Keep the still hot aubergines covered in a pan.

When cool enough to handle, remove stalk and remove the skin by holding under running cold water. Mash the insides into a pulp.

Grind onion, garlic and ginger into a coarse paste. Alternatively you can grate them if you wish.

Cook, peel and mash the tomatoes. For this you can boil them in a hot water on the stove top for 2 min or in a microwave. Let them cool and then peel them and then mash .

Heat oil in a sauce pan, add cumin and mustard seeds (skip these if making this for children less than 1 year to avoid chocking). Allow to splutter.

Add chillies (if using) and then the ground paste. Sauté for 1-2 mins until the raw onion smell disappears.

Add turmeric powder and mashed tomatoes and mix well.

Add the mashed aubergine, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a further 1 min until heated thoroughly. This is the Trinidad version. Serve warm with Sada roti and a small piece of habenero pepper. For the south Indian version, turn the stove off, allow to cool for 5 mins and add plain yoghurt and garnish with coriander and curry leaves. This is called Kathirikai pachadi in South India.

For the Baingain da bharta add the spices, except chilli powder and ghee/butter, and mix well along with coriander and curry leaves. Cook for another min until thoroughly heated. Turn off the heat, add lemon juice and mix well.

Just before serving, melt ghee or butter in a small skillet over a low flame...

add the chilli powder in the ghee (for adults only). Without allowing to burn, cook for a 10-20 secs and pour over the bharta. Mix well. This adds great flavour to the bharta.

Serve warm with roti/pita/toast etc.

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