I must confess that the eggplant is not one of my best loved vegetables. In fact, it is only now that I’m slowly developing a liking for it and even then it’s mostly in dishes that I have cooked because I know how I like it!
As children, one of the rules that got strictly enforced at the table by our father was that we had to eat whatever our mother cooked for the day without refusing it. We did get served smaller helpings of food we didn’t particularly like, but if either my sister or I said we didn’t like something the punishment was an extra helping of it! And we didn’t get excused from the table till we had eaten it all because wasting food was not encouraged.
I was the one who questioned everything and fought being forced to do things I didn’t like and invariably got into trouble by getting the extra second serving while my younger sister was the smart one who kept quiet. She still doesn’t like eggplant while I’m the one who has started liking it somewhat.
As I was saying, I like eggplant certain ways and that includes dishes like Baingan Bhartha or Caponata where it is first roasted/ grilled which gives the vegetable that smokiness. Over the last few years, I have also been discovering that there are a whole lot of varieties of the eggplant and some of them taste much better than others when cooked.
This stuffed version is one that is slowly becoming a favourite with my husband and myself though it’s a something I cook once in a while because it is a preparation that requires a lot more oil than I am comfortable using in my everyday cooking. It’s not the prettiest looking of dishes, but I can assure you that tastes s much better than it looks.
Use purple baby eggplant to make this dish. Otherwise pick the smallest of the small to medium sized purple eggplant, the kind that have very little or no seeds.
Bhagara Baingan (Spicy Stuffed Eggplant/Brinjal/ Aubergine)
(Adapted from The Complete Vegetable Cookbook)