Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with my unique twist on the classic baingan bharta: this smoked eggplant curry recipe is all about incredible smoky flavor and heady aromas, but guess what, no grilling is required! The desired outcome is achieved with two simple hacks!
This post contains helpful notes, tips, and tricks to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link above or the "Jump to" links below to get to the section you want.
You know me well enough to understand my love for delicious food that doesn't take forever to make: from the 5-minute corn and peas salad to the speedy spinach stir fry, I'm all about quick and tasty meals.
So, as much as I love intense smoky flavors, there is no way I will spend 2 hours grilling the eggplant and then making a dish out of it!
I have cracked the code on achieving that irresistible smoky flavor without the need for grilling and I am so happy to share this time-saving and mess-free recipe!
Say goodbye to long hours spent tending to the grill, or dealing with messy oven trays!
Allergens free labels
This is a plant-based recipe and is free of:
Why this smoked aubergine recipe
- Prepare this time-saving dish in under one hour - no need to spend two hours grilling eggplants!
- Enjoy a mess-free way to achieve that irresistible smokiness.
- Savor the exotic blend of spices, deep aromas, and melt-in-your-mouth eggplant, all without the fuss.
- Impress even the eggplant haters with this delicious dish - they will surely come back for seconds!
- Suitable for you if you follow a vegan and gluten-free diet. (See the section above for more information.)
A note about this smoky eggplant dish
While the mention of smoked eggplant often conjures up images of creamy baba ganoush from the Mediterranean, this dish is India's very own gem - baingan bharta.
Baba ganoush, with its Middle Eastern origins, features a velvety blend of roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, kosher salt, and spiced with ground black pepper.
Baingan bharta is a traditional Indian dish made with mashed grilled eggplant, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. The soft flesh of the eggplant, charred over an open flame or barbecue, is combined with aromatic spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili.
Do you have a similar recipe from where you belong? Do let me know in the comments below. I would love to learn from you. Padma
Nothing too complicated!
As always, please check the recipe card for the quantities.
There are some more ingredients below.
Eggplant: Also known as aubergines. Choose ones that have gleaming and taut skin. This indicates that they are tender and fresh.
Onion: Red or white - either is fine.
Cilantro - leaves and stems too.
Chili pepper: Green or red and as many as you can handle!
Tomatoes: Choose ones that are sour. The blandness of eggplants needs a good dose of tartness for a good balance (see notes below).
You will also need hot water to help cook the eggplants.
Oil: This, like the bhindi masala recipe and aloo palak recipe, is hearty and rustic and therefore I recommend using mustard oil for the distinctive flavor that it adds to the dish. If not, use any neutral oil. No olive oil, please!
Smoked paprika: This is my hack #1 for that heady smoky aroma! Paprika also brings a beautiful red color to the dish. If you find it not spicy enough, then add some regular red chili powder - see notes below for quantity.
What you will need to create smoke (hack #2):
- A small piece of charcoal
- A barbeque/gas lighter
- Few drops of oil
- A small metal or glass plate or bowl
Have a question regarding the ingredients? Feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will try my best to answer it for you.
Get ready to impress your family and friends, in under an hour, with a curry that will leave them asking for seconds.
Also, see the video below the recipe card.
Let's start with some prep work:
- Wash, peel, and chop finely the eggplants, onion, and garlic cloves. After chopping, to avoid them from discoloring, keep the eggplant in water until required in the recipe.
- Dice the tomatoes.
- Finely chop the chili peppers and ginger. I do not peel the ginger. You can if you want to.
Make the curry.
Place the oil in the Dutch oven on medium-high heat.
Add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies. Fry, on medium-high, heat for 5-6 minutes or until the onions turn pinkish.
Now add the tomatoes and the spices. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and you see the oil floating on top.
Drain the eggplants and squeeze out as much of the water as you can (you will be surprised at how much of the water they have absorbed!).
Add them to the tomato mixture and the hot water too. Mix thoroughly. Cover and cook, on medium-high heat, for 15 minutes.
Use a vegetable masher to mash the eggplant as finely as you can. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
Take the lid off and stir a couple of times. Mash again, if required, until all the eggplant pieces are mashed.
Add the chopped cilantro. Mix.
Cook, on medium-high heat, for 1-2 minutes, allowing the flavor of cilantro to mix with the other flavors.
Take off from the heat.
Infusing smoke for a deeper smoky flavor. This is totally optional. If you are happy with the flavor of smoked paprika, then skip this step.
Burn a piece of charcoal with the help of a gas/barbeque lighter. Allow the flame to gradually engulf the charcoal.
As it burns, you'll notice the charcoal turning gray and glowing with heat. Give it some time to fully ignite and develop a layer of white ash on the surface, indicating that it's ready.
Place a small metal/ glass plate or bowl on the aubergine curry and push it down a bit into the curry - see the video at the end of the recipe card below.
With the help of tongs, place the charcoal in the plate/bowl.
Add a few - 2 or 3 - drops of oil (or ghee for more flavor) and when you see the smoke, quickly place the lid.
Let the smoke flavor the dish for 2-3 minutes (or more, if you want a more intense flavor).
Take the lid off and remove the plate/bowl with the charcoal.
Mix the curry well.
Serve this deliciously smoked eggplant curry warm with some vegan tortillas, to make a vegan meal, or with any other bread/ rice dish of your choice.
See more serving suggestions and meal ideas below.
Tips for making the best smoky aubergine curry
- Look for eggplants with smooth glossy skin - this indicates that they are tender and fresh.
- For the authentic Punjabi flavor, use mustard oil - see notes below on the best way to cook with it.
- Mash the aubergines well. This dish is as much about consistency as it is about smokiness.
- Aubergines/eggplants love high heat! Do not be tempted to simmer them - they will become tough and rubbery. Cook the dish on medium-high heat.
- 4 tablespoons of oil may sound like a lot, but trust me, the eggplants need it!
- Do not skimp on cilantro. Be generous and you will be rewarded with a dish that smells heavenly! 😊
- Do peel the eggplants. This is a game-changer. Peeling them will help them cook to a mush and the dish will look authentic.
Notes, serving, and storage suggestions
Mustard oil: Adds a distinctive flavor to the dish. Do not have mustard oil in your store cupboard? No worries, use sunflower or any neutral oil of your choice. No olive oil, please!
💡 When using mustard oil, heating it to the smoking point helps mellow its pungency while imparting a distinct character to the dish.
Chili powder: I use smoked paprika more for that smoky flavor than the heat. If you like it spicier, add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite spicy chili powder.
Tomatoes are here to add bulk and tanginess to the dish. If your tomatoes are not sour enough, add 2 teaspoons of tomato paste (concentrate) for that tangy punch.
Do you eat the skin on eggplant? Yes, you normally do cook the eggplants with their skin on. Just wash them thoroughly and dice/ slice them as per the recipe.
Serving smoked eggplant curry:
- As part of a meal, this dish tastes best with roti, paratha, or naan. To make a soul-satisfying gluten-free meal, try it with gluten-free naan and spiced onions salad. Yum!
- I have had it as a spread/ filling for my sandwich and it tastes amazing!
- As a dip with some warm pita bread; crunchy veggie sticks; crackers; tortilla chips. Innovative!
Storage: Store the leftover curry, in a glass container with a lid, in the refrigerator and it will keep good for 3-4 days. It tastes better with each passing day. 😋
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
No, you do not have to peel the eggplant before roasting them.
For roasting an eggplant, wash it and wipe it dry. Cut it if the recipe calls for it, or roast it whole. Rub a few drops of oil on the eggplant and then roast it as per the recipe.
The most popular way to eat eggplant is by roasting it - either on a griddle pan, in the oven, or on the barbecue. Some other ways to enjoy eggplants:
- As layers in lasagna
- Stir-fried with peppers and onions
- Smoky eggplant curry
- Baba Ghanoush
- Pan-fried aubergine slices
- Stuffed eggplants
Yes, the skin of an eggplant is edible. Make sure you wash and wipe it dry. Cut it if the recipe calls for it, or roast it whole.
If you have made this flavorsome smoked eggplant curry, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! You can also engage with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram xx Padma
Smoked Eggplant Curry
- 1 dutch oven (or any wide, heavy-bottomed deep pan with a lid)
- 1 mixing spoon
- 1 vegetable masher
- 1 small charcoal
- 1 lighter or candle and matchbox , to light the charcoal
- 1 small glass plate/bowl , to place the burning coal
- a few drops of oil
- 1 lb. (~450 g) eggplant
- 1 big (~150 g) onion
- ½ lb. (~220 g) tomatoes
- 2 inches piece (~15 g) fresh ginger
- 2 fat (~15 g) garlic cloves
- 2 green chilies - more, if you like it spicier
- 1 cup hot water
- 4 tablespoons mustard oil - see notes
- 1 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 4 teaspoons coriander powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
To finish off
- ½ cup fresh cilantro (coriander) , finely chopped
- Eggplant - wash, peel, and finely chop. Keep the chopped pieces in water until required.
- Onion and garlic - peel, and chop finely.
- Ginger and chilies - chop them finely.
- Tomatoes - wash, and dice.
Make the curry
- Add the oil to the Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Allow the oil to become hot.4 tablespoons mustard oil
- Add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies. Fry, on medium-high, heat for 5-6 minutes or until the onions turn pinkish.1 big (~150 g) onion, 2 inches piece (~15 g) fresh ginger, 2 fat (~15 g) garlic cloves, 2 green chilies
- Now add the tomatoes and the spices. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes.The tomatoes should be mushy and the masala should be glistening. Smoked paprika is my hack #1.½ lb. (~220 g) tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 4 teaspoons coriander powder, 2 teaspoons cumin powder, 4 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons garam masala
- Add the chopped eggplant and water. Mix thoroughly. Cover and cook, on medium-high heat, for 15 minutes. Stir it once or twice, and allow the water that gets collected on the underside of the lid to drip into the cooking mixture.1 lb. (~450 g) eggplant, 1 cup hot water
- Use the masher to mash the eggplant as finely as you can. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Take the lid off and stir a couple of times. Mash again, if you still see pieces of aubergine. Taste for salt at this stage and add more, if required.
- Add the chopped cilantro. Mix. Cook, on medium-high heat, for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the heat.½ cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
Infusing smoke (hack #2)
- This is totally optional. If you are happy with the flavor of smoked paprika, then skip this step.
- Burn a piece of charcoal with the help of a gas/barbeque lighter. Allow the flame to gradually engulf the charcoal.As it burns, you'll notice the charcoal turning gray and glowing with heat. Give it some time to fully ignite and develop a layer of white ash on the surface, indicating that it's ready.
- Place a small metal/ glass plate or bowl on the aubergine curry and push it down a bit, into the curry - see video below.
- With the help of tongs, place the charcoal in the plate/bowl.
- Add a few - 2 or 3 - drops of oil (or ghee for more flavor) and when you see the smoke, quickly place the lid. Let the smoke flavor the dish for 2-3 minutes (or more, if you want more intense flavor).
- Take the lid off and remove the plate/bowl and the charcoal.
- Serve warm with vegan tortillas to make a vegan meal or with any other bread/ rice dish of your choice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.