This is a controversial recipe in our home.
I love eggplants. I grew up eating them and could eat them everyday. So yum! My husband, on the other hand, cannot stand them! And he always eats everything! I think it is the only food that he hates! So this is bizarre to me!
For some reason J just cannot get behind eggplant. We’ve tried it all the ways: Fried, baked, grilled, in a curry, and even on pizza – his favourite food! He reluctantly will eat it, and even will admit that it tastes ‘fine’. But he just doesn’t love it.
I wish I could say this recipe changed his mind. It has all the right things: creamy, rich and flavourful. But all he did was eat the curry part and not the actual pieces of eggplant in the curry (jokes on him, the whole point of a bhurta is that the eggplant gets so soft it basically turns into the curry! 😉
So, no, this recipe will not make an eggplant lover out of an eggplant hater. But it really is a delicious curry that checks most of the boxes – gluten free, dairy free, meat free. The only thing it is not, is nut free. The creamy richness comes from a base of cashews, sesame seeds (or tahini) and coconut flakes. The addition of tamarind and some other basic spices make it so flavourful. The eggplant just soaks up all that flavour and it turns into yum!
Bengan ka bhurta or bharta literally means ‘eggplant mashed’. The eggplant is cooked till it starts to breakdown and just melt into the curry creating a thick creamy curry.
You can even grill the eggplant beforehand, which makes it tastes even better! The smokey flavour of grilled eggplant really plays well with the tangy tamarind and creamy curry. Try it!
I absolutely love bengan ka bhurta and I am so glad I have a totally paleo and whole30 version that I can now make and enjoy all for myself.
J is missing out on this one! Oh well, more for me!
Bangin’ Bengan Ka Bhurta (Eggplant Curry)
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (about 15 pieces)
- 1 tbsp sesame seed (can substitute tahini paste)
- 3 tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetented)
- 4-5 small eggplants (or if using larger, cut them up into smaller 2-3 inch pieces)
- 2 tbsp oil (I use avocado oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 2-3 curry leaves
- 1 medium onion. diced
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1-2 cups water
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 tsp corriander powder
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- cilantro leaves (for garnish)
- sesame seeds (for garnish)
Make the Curry Base
- In a clean dry large pan or wok, over medium heat dry roast the cashews till starting to get fragrant and turn golden brown. Turn off the heat and add the sesame seeds & coconut flakes. Stir for a minute in the residual heat till you can smell the coconut. (Note: if using tahini, instead of sesame seeds, add that in the next step).
- Allow to cool and then blend with a few tbsp of water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Prepare the Eggplant
- In the same pan start to heat the oil while you prep the eggplant.
- Cut your eggplant. I like to keep the eggplant in tact by cutting a slit down the bottom of the eggplant almost all the way to the stem (being careful not to cut it in half completely). But choping into 2-3 inch pieces works just as well. It will likely mean your bharta (curry) will have less visible pieces of eggplant in the end. Sprinkle a pinch of salt into the cut sides of each eggplant. This will help the water draw out and soften them in the curry.
- Add the eggplant to the heated oil and on medium low heat cook, turning frequently, till starting to soften. The outside will start to blister and turn brown.
- Set aside.
Make the Curry
- In the same pan, add 2 more tbsp oil and cumin and mustard powder.
- When they begin to sizzle, add the curry leaves and a pinch of salt.
- Add the onions and fry till they start to turn translucent (about 2-3 mins).
- Add the ginger & garlic paste, cook for 2 mins or until it starts to turn fragrant (this is the best smell!)
- Add 1 cup water, blended curry base, tamarind paste, garam masala, red chilli powder, turmeric and bring to a boil on medium heat.
- When it comes to a boil, add the eggplant back in. If you want more liquid in the curry, add more water. It should have a nice thick gravy consistency. Give it a taste and add more salt or spice if needed.
- Cover with a lid and allow to boil for 5-10 mins till the eggplant start so soften and look a bit wilted.
- Sprinkle with cilantro leaves & sesame seeds to serve. Best served warm over rice.