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    Chilli and Garlic Braised Aubergine Bhaji

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    Chilli and Garlic Braised Aubergine Bhaji

    This spicy, one-pot main course dish is from the Punjab, in north-east India. The characteristic fat of the area is mustard seed oil, giving the cooking of the region a distinctive, pungent flavour. For the same effect, this recipe uses mustard seeds.

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes
    • Cooking time: 60 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes 60 minutes 25 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    • 500g aubergines, wiped and hulled
    • 500g potatoes, peeled
    • 500g onions, finely sliced
    • 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
    • 250ml sunflower oil
    • 3-4 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
    • 1 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 short stick cinnamon
    • 1 tsp mustard seeds
    • 410g tin chickpeas, drained
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper

    Method

    1. Dice the aubergines and potatoes into cubes roughly the same size as the garlic cloves. Drop into a bowl of lightly salted water and set aside.
    2. Take a third of the sliced onions and spread between two layers of kitchen paper, weighted down to press out as much juice as possible.
    3. Reserve 2 tbsp of the oil and heat the rest in a heavy pan until a blue haze rises. Fry the garlic cloves for 2-3 minutes until they begin to colour. Add the non-reserved onions and fry gently, stirring, until they soften and gild - allow at least 15 minutes. Tip the lot into a sieve, and set over a bowl to catch the oil.
    4. Add the chilli and spices to the pan and fry gently in the residue of oil. The mustard seeds will jump, so have a lid handy. Add the oil which has drained from the onions. Drain the aubergine and potato, add to the pan with the spices and fry until they begin to brown. Stir in the cooked onion, turn down the heat, cover loosely and leave to cook undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the juices reduced to a small amount of fragrant sauce. Stir in the chickpeas and reheat, bubbling up if necessary to evaporate excess juices.
    5. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the reserved 2 tbsp oil and fry the reserved onion slices until dark gold and lightly caramelised. Drain on kitchen paper - they crisp as they cool.

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    Serving tips

    Serve the bhaji with a topping of caramelised onion, alongside a mint raita (plain yoghurt with freshly chopped mint) and soft flatbreads.

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    4 stars