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Smoked Eggplant

Smoked eggplant

Smoked eggplant, perfect as a main course with naan or crusty bread. (Photo: Johnny Autry)

This recipe is inspired by Punjabi baingan bharta, or “spiced eggplant hash.” Enjoy warm as main course with roasted vegetables or as a dip, spread, or side dish. Eat it with steamed rice or roti. Anita spreads it on warm toast the next morning for breakfast, and you can even throw it on a poached or fried egg.


2 large purple eggplants
2 unpeeled ripe plantains (optional)
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup minced white onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ginger puree
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garam masala

Recipe directions: 

Lightly oil the eggplants and place them directly over two burners of your stove over high heat. If your burners are electric, you will need some kind of grate or rack to place the eggplant on. You can also cook the eggplant on an outdoor gas or electric grill. Char the eggplants on all sides, turning them with tongs. They will blacken and crackle on the outside and soften and smoke on the inside. To ensure that the eggplants are cooked all the way through, do not rush this part – the flesh should feel soft when prodded with a fork or table knife. Let the eggplants rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then discard the burnt skin by pulling it off in strips. If some parts are resistant, use a paring knife to cut them out. Mash or chop the inside pulp with a knife and set aside. While the eggplants are smoking, if using the plantain, char it until the peel is black on all sides. Set it aside separately.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat and pop the cumin seeds, then immediately add the onion and cook until sweaty. Lower the heat and cook until the onions soften and caramelize slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the mashed eggplant, turmeric, red chili powder, black pepper, ginger puree, and salt. Cover and simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes for the flavors to meld. Remove the plantain pulp, fold it in along with the garam masala, turn the heat off, and serve. Serves 4.

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