Traditional Gujarati cuisine is about simple ingredients paired with simple flavours.
This is not a traditional Gujarati dish, however. Yes, I tweaked it and I’m not even sorry.
It grew out of my love of the wonderful aubergine dish ‘oroh’, a.k.a ‘baingan bharta’.
Almost every Indian region has its own version of this recipe and if that isn’t enough evidence of its popularity, its predominance in Indian restaurants all over the world is.
If you’re looking for something hot and spicy then this is the dish for you. The chances are that you will find lots of variations of this recipe the world over and every Indian family has their own aubergine secrets.
For, these are the best kind of secrets to have, of course.
Aubergines have their own special place in so many cuisines, and there are wonderful ways to make them more interesting than you may think. While Italian Nonnas roast them for hearty pastas, Greek Yayas stew them in rich tomato stews; as Japanese Oka-samas deep fry them in light tempura batter, Indian Dadimaas grill them for smoky baingan bharta. As I type, I can taste each country, culture and variation. The differences are immense but the common similarity of deliciousness always dominates.
My own personal addition to the classic Indian dish baingan bharta (or oroh) is sweet, green peas which add a delicate freshness to smoky aubergine.
Note: Don’t be afraid of the garlic in this recipe. It loves you. Embrace it and enjoy it.
Mashed Aubergine and Green Pea Curry
4 large aubergines
2 large onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 hot red chillies, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp asafoetida
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed powder
1 tsp coriander seed powder
300g frozen peas, defrosted
Salt to taste
A handful of chopped coriander to garnish
1. Pierce the aubergines all over with a fork. Place in the grill and grill all over until the skin has charred. Hot Tip: You could also do this on a barbecue. Allow to cool, then cut the aubergines lengthways and scoop out the flesh and chop it up. Set the flesh aside and discard the skins.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds. When they have popped add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, garlic, chillies and onions. Cook until the onions are lightly golden.
3. Add the tomatoes and turmeric. Cook for 4-5 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly.
4. Add the aubergine flesh, defrosted peas, salt, coriander seed powder and cumin seed powder. Mix thoroughly and cook for a further two minutes before removing from the heat and garnishing with chopped coriander.
Serve with naan, buttered chapattis or paratha. I would.