What is Eggplant Bhaaji?
In Indian cooking, bhaaji is really any cooked vegetable, but is often described as a vegetable fried in batter. That is not the case with this eggplant bhaaji recipe, everything is done in one pot on the stovetop.
This is a simple Indian vegetarian side dish that really has only three main ingredients; eggplant, tomatoes and garlic.
My mother-in-law would make this dish on a regular basis, and was always one of my favourites. It was also one of the first recipes that my daughter would help me make, when she still had to stand on a stool in the kitchen to reach the cooktop.
How to cook with eggplant?
Cooking with eggplant can seem a bit daunting if you haven’t worked with it before. If not cooked correctly, it can be spongy and tasteless.
With that said, don’t give up on cooking with eggplant!
This is a great article that outlines some of the common mistakes when cooking with eggplant: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/eggplant-cooking-tips/.
Take a quick read, and if you are up for the challenge, carry on reading!
Eggplant is an incredibly versatile vegetable!
There is always some type of eggplant in the veggie drawer in our house. I use it in stews, curries, pasta sauce, grilled in salads, even in soup! It is a good substitution for zucchini or potatoes in stews. We also make our own baba ghanoush at least once a week, when the kids see a grilled eggplant sitting on the counter, they get very excited!
Once you experiment with it, it is an incredibly versatile vegetable that is readily available year-round. I continue to find new ways to incorporate it into recipes. It absorbs flavours wonderfully, and will add richness and texture to your creations.
The many types of eggplants...
There are many varieties of eggplant out there, American (Globe), Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Fairy tale, to name a few. Each type has different characteristics, and which type you use does make a difference to the outcome of your recipes.
Here is a link to a very good article with photos of different types of eggplant and their uses:
I have tried making this dish with Italian, Japanese and Globe eggplant. Japanese eggplants typically have a thinner skin, and are more tender than the Globe eggplants. However, it can be more challenging to find Japanese eggplant year-round in my area. If using Globe, I will usually add the salt for the recipe to the raw diced eggplant, so that it can reduce some of the moisture and allow flavours to be better absorbed, resulting in a less ‘bitter’ taste. You can let it sit for 15 – 30 minutes ahead of cooking, if you have the time.
How to make Eggplant Bhaaji
Soap box moment: I am a big proponent of prepping before cooking, especially when trying out a new recipe. If you have all of your ingredients prepped and ready, it will alleviate some stress when you start cooking.
The method for this recipe is very straight forward.
As I mentioned above, if you are using Globe eggplant, I recommend that you dice the eggplant in advance, and sprinkle salt over the eggplant. This can be done just ahead of starting to prep everything else. This will help to remove some of the moisture, and allow your flavours to be better absorbed.
Prepare the tomatoes and garlic, and have them ready to add in once you are ready for them.
Using a medium sauce pan, heat the oil and then throw in the eggplant and coat with oil. Add in the garlic and fry with the eggplant for a few minutes. Add in the tomatoes, and stir to combine.
Then REDUCE THE HEAT! It is important to reduce the heat, once everything is in the pot, and let it cook slowly, until the oil starts to separate; that’s when you know it is ready to eat.
What to serve with Eggplant Bhaaji?
Eggplant Bhaaji with Tomato and Garlic is a quick and easy vegan/vegetarian side dish that pairs well with any meat curry, basmati rice, or a flat bread. If you want to keep it vegetarian, a chick pea curry with this as a side dish would be amazing as well.
I usually add in some chopped red or white onion in the last few minutes of cooking, so that the onion still has some crunch when served. You could also offer raw onion on the side, either works great with this recipe.
Eggplant Bhaaji with Tomato and Garlic
- 1 eggplant diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ea tomato diced
- 1/4 ea white or red onion (optional) diced
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (optional) chopped
- Dice eggplant and place in colander, sprinkle salt over and set aside
- Heat oil in medium sized sauce pan
- Add eggplant and garlic, stir until all eggplant is coated in oil
- Add tomato, and stir to combine
- Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer until eggplant is soft and mushy and oil is separating; approximately 15 minutes
- If using, add onion, and cook for a few more minutes to soften slightly
- Serve topped with fresh cilantro (optional)