Begun Bhaja – Eggplant/Aubergine Recipe

I love my veggies in the everyday meals but, there are days when you wish to bring something new to the table without much hassle.

This time around I turned towards the eastern belt of the country and decided to add a Bengali twist to my everyday Punjabi meal. I have a version of fried eggplants that I have learnt from my mother but, upon learning how Bengalis prepare this dish, I wanted to taste the same at the comfort of my home. Actually, there aren’t any Bengali eateries here that I am aware or familiar with that serve the authentic recipes of the state and region. Thus, had to the take the matter in  my own hands this time.

So brace yourselves for the scrumptious Begun Bhaja recipe that I am about to share with you. Begun i.e. Brinjal/Eggplant/Aubergine is delicately spiced and pan fried which I believe gives it the name Bhaja (similar to Bhajia/Fritters). It’s quick, easy and makes a great accompaniment to the good old Dal Chawal but you may have it as your main dish if you like.

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What you need :

  1. Brinjal/Eggplant –  1 large
  2. Gram Flour(Besan) –  2 tbsp
  3. Turmeric powder –  1/4 tsp
  4. Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp
  5. Salt – as per taste
  6. Sugar – 1.5 tsp
  7. Mustard Oil/Olive Oil –  for shallow frying

Recipe Instructions :

  1. Start by cutting the eggplant into discs that are about 2 cm in thickness. You can score the pieces like I have to ensure the middle part gets cooked nice & crisp but its optional.
  2. For marination, mix the mentioned dry masalas, seasoning and flour together and coat it on the eggplant discs evenly.
  3. Cover the eggplant and let it sit in the marination for about 10-15 mins.
  4. Take a pan for shallow frying the eggplant and heat mustard oil in it. I love using mustard oil as it imparts an earthy flavour to the dish but you can replace that with olive oil  if you find Mustard oil a little too pungent for your taste.
  5. Once the oil is hot, keep the flame setting to min and slide the marinated brinjal slices in the pan.
  6. Let it cook nicely on one side for a min or so before flipping the other side down. Cook both the sides well for 4-5 minutes on low flame.
  7. Keep flipping the sides from time to time as the sugar is caramelizing and might burn if left frying for long.
  8. Once the eggplant is cooked completely take it off the heat and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top and serve as a starter or side dish for your meal.

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It is sweet, salty and tangy (with lemon) with a subtle earthy flavor from the mustard oil. Crisp on the sides and soft fleshy aubergine on the inside. You need to try it at least once to know what a magnificent dish it is. For all your fish loving friends, its going to be a vegetarian treat; not the exact same thing but a pretty good one.

***Note :

You may bake the slices as well in an oven but, watch out for the sugar in the marinate as it tends to burn quickly. This would require a little bit of oil for baking that you can mix while marination.

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Do leave your feedback in the comments below if you like it.

And, to all my Bengali friends, I hope I have done some justice here and you are proud of me.

Love,

R

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