This is the Food To Glow dinner version of the iconic Indian side dish, baingan bharta. Based on fire-roasted eggplant and cooked-down spiced tomatoes, this fragrant, soothingly-soft dish is served rather heretically with pasta and topped with creamy, indulgent burrata. Enjoy xx
Baingan Baharta Pasta is a rather cheeky nod to my favorite Indian side dish. Spiced, but not hot; vegetable-filled, but not “worthy”; this is a tangy, aromatic way to enjoy eggplants and tomatoes. And pasta! And creamy burrata!
I hope as crazy as this Italian-Indian mash-up might sound, that you are tempted to rush straight to the kitchen to make it. Or at least grab a pen and paper to add the ingredients to your grocery list. Because, I promise, it is a very gratifying dish to put together, let alone eat.
What does Baingan Bharta Pasta taste like?
This recipe, cooked on the stove until you have a mulch of spice-infused vegetables, is defined by its subtle smokiness.
Eggplants get the gas stove treatment, turning from fat, firm glossy obsidian fruit to charred and collapsed heaps, puffs of steam escaping from the knife pricks. Although the burnt eggplant skin is peeled away and discarded, smokiness permeates the soft, pale flesh underneath. It is utterly delicious just like this. Indeed if you add tahini, lemon, garlic and a few other bits, you will have the intense, miraculous dish, baba ganoush.
But our palates are going a bit further east. The taste result is intense and a bit herbal, but not overwhelming. It is tempered and complemented – I think – by the blander pasta and the creamy soft cheese. I hope you find it well balanced as is, but of course feel free to tinker with the seasoning and acidity.
How do I make Baingan Bharta Pasta?
- Once the eggplants have collapsed on the stove with a steamy sigh it is time to concentrate on getting the rest of the “sauce” together. I put quotes around this because I am thinking of it as a pasta sauce, but of course it isn’t really.
- Anyway, we are cooking down onion until soft and golden, adding a bit of salt to help prevent burning. Btw, most of my favorite savory dishes start with slow-cooked onions.
- Then we add lots of garlic (tamed by the cooking!), chopped fresh tomatoes, green chili, Kashmiri chili (or cayenne), fresh ginger and turmeric. We let this cook until the oil separates out and the tomatoes are very soft and pulpy.
- Next we add the smoky eggplant and let that cook some more until the oil separates out yet again.
- Last addition is of lime juice, garam masala and cilantro, cooking just a minute or two before stirring into the cooked pasta – whatever kind that you like – and topping with a quick preserved lemon and spice drizzle that you will “temper” in a bit of hot oil. This last bit isn’t absolutely necessary, but I think it adds a little something special.
- Finally we tear up the burrata and divide between the servings. I’ve been a bit mean and stipulated one fat ball of burrata between four plates, but perhaps use two. Or even none if you wish to keep it vegan.
In the oven: below in the recipe card I tell you how to roast your eggplants in the oven so that they collapse and the insides are lovely and soft.
For families: If you want to serve this as an adventurous family meal – well, you might! – just leave out the green chilli and the Kashmiri chili powder.
Change the cheese: You could even serve this with fried slices of paneer cheese or sautéed tofu instead of the burrata if this is hard to get, or perhaps a bit rich in taste for you. Make it your own. 🙂
PS. Burrata is usually made with animal rennet, but you can get it made with microbial rennet and even vegan. If you are vegan or vegetarian, do read the label, or consider using tofu instead. 🙂
So, what do you think? A bit mad, huh? Let me know if you try my Baingan Bharta Pasta with Burrata below, or over on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I always welcome your comments. And I love it when you let me know you are cooking Food To Glow!
Baingan Bharta Pasta with Burrata (Indian Fire-Roasted Eggplant)
The Food To Glow version of the iconic Punjabi dish based on fire-roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices. Mixed with pasta and topped with creamy, indulgent burrata.
- 2 eggplants firm and glossy
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or whatever is your preferred neutral cooking oil
- 1 red onion peeled and finely chopped or sliced
- 6 cloves garlic smashed, peeled and minced
- 1 green finger chili chopped
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili or 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 4 medium tomatoes chopped, keeping the juices
- 1/2 tsp garam masala more to taste
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 300 g uncooked pasta
- 1 ball burrata
- 30 g cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil or ghee
- 1 preserved lemon finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
- 2 tsp kalonji seeds
- 1/4 tsp salt
Roasting the Eggplants - two ways
Prick the eggplants with a skewer or thin-bladed knife in a few places. Flame-roast the eggplants, turning every few minutes with tongs, until charred and collapsed - about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then peel the skin - its easy to do - and chop the pale smoky flesh. Set aside. You can roast the eggplants in the oven if you don't have a gas stove. Heat the oven to 220C fan/ 240C/450F and place the pricked eggplants on a foil-lined tray. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, or until collapsed. This is a good method but doesn't add much in the way of smoky flavor.
The Tomato Sauce + Pasta
Heat the oil in a wide, shallow pan, adding the onions and a good pinch of salt - about 1/4 teaspoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Add in the minced garlic, chopped chili and ginger, turmeric, black pepper, Kashimir chili powder and tomatoes, mixing well. Sauté until the oil separates from the mixture at the sides and the tomatoes are pulpy in texture.
Add in the chopped cooked eggplant and mix well. Let this cook down until the oil again separates out to the sides. Just about done! Stir in the lime juice, garam masala and cilantro.
While the sauce is cooking down to a jammy fragrant mulch, cook the pasta as directed. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well add it back to the cooking pan and pour over the baingan bharta, mixing well.
The Tarka -optional
Heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the chopped preserved lemon, chili powder, kalonji seeds and salt. There will be some serious spluttering so take care. Let this sizzle for 30 seconds and immediately take it off the heat
Putting It Together
Portion the Baingan Bharta Pasta into individual dishes, drizzling over the hot tarka and tearing up the burrata to top. Serve hot.
If you don't fancy having this with pasta, serve in a traditional way with hot roti or chapati, plus some seasoned rice (cumin-scented or turmeric rice is excellent).
And, if you don't care for the burrata, just leave it out. Perhaps add some sautéed tofu pieces for a bit of protein. Or serve the Baingan Bharta as a side dish.
Pin now. Make soon!