Bharwan Baingan or stuffed eggplant is a popular vegetarian Indian main dish made with baby eggplants. Each eggplant is stuffed with an aromatic spice mix and then slow cooked in mustard oil to create a delicious and exotic dish.
We both love stuffed eggplants. They are supposed to be eaten with an Indian flatbread but very often, we pop a few of them, as is, right after they are cooked. The eggplants are cooked to very soft but still retain their shape and the entire flesh is deliciously flavored with the spice mix rubbed inside.
There are two things that are essential for a delicious Bharwan Baingan
1. The Spice Mix
This is a traditional recipe from Rajasthani cuisine. Rajasthani cuisine is known for using a lot of whole spices. They are more aromatic than ground ones and also more flavorful. All the spices used in the spice mix are also typically used in making Indian pickles, which is why this bharwan baingan is also called achari baingan (pickled eggplant).
2. Slow Cooking
The key to a delicious Indian stuffed eggplant is the spice mix and the very slow cooking. Since the eggplants are cooked whole, if they are cooked at high heat, they will burn from outside and remain undercooked from inside. Only when they are cooked at a low heat, do they cook all the way through and the spice mix is infused in the entire eggplant.
They can also be roasted in an oven at low heat. Occasionally turn the eggplants to ensure even cooking.
Variations to the vegetarian stuffed eggplant
Bharwan Baingan is part of many regional cuisines in India. In every recipe, the baby eggplants are slit from bottom and stuffed with a spicy filling. This filling is what is different across different cuisines. Here are a few popular variations to the stuffing:
- Onion stuffing: Heat a little oil in pan and sauté onions till soft. Mix them with the spice mix as this recipe and use to fill.
- Coconut and peanut stuffing: In addition to the spices used in this recipe, add peanuts, curry leaves, and desiccated coconut to the spices while roasting.
- Gram Flour stuffing like in this Bharwan Mirch (stuffed chili) recipe.
In some cuisines, the stuffed eggplants are served in a smooth gravy like that of Kashmiri baingan. In Rajasthan, we enjoy them just as they are 🙂 I hope you like this recipe. Would love to read your feedback/ comments for the recipe!
Bharwan Baingan | Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 10 baby eggplants
- 4 tbsp mustard oil
- Salt to taste
To make the achari masala (spice mix) for stuffing:
- Dry roast the whole spices (coriander, fennel, cumin, fenugreek, nigella, and carom seeds) for a minute or two, until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Grind to a powder in a spice grinder or use a mortar & pestle to grind them to a coarse powder. Add the remaining dry spices and mix well.
- Add salt and 2 tbsps of mustard oil and again mix well with your fingers.
Prepare the Eggplant
- From the bottom, make two perpendicular slits (in a plus sign) on each eggplant. Cut them till just before the stem.
- Rub and fill the achari spice mix inside all the cuts.
- Heat the remaining 2 tbsp mustard oil in a pan on low heat. Add the prepared eggplants and cook covered for 5 minutes. Open, turn the brinjals, and again cook covered for another 5 minutes. Repeat until the eggplants are cooked evenly from all sides. Sprinkle a few drops of water if you see the eggplants are sticking to the pot.
- Check recipe description for stuffing variations.
- Nutritional Information is approximate information for 1 of 4 servings.
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