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Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 5

I live and breathe Gujarati food. Simple vegetarian dishes we’d eat every night when I was young are what have inspired my love of cooking today. Oroh was one of those dishes mum would cook as a midweek dinner after our evening swim at our local leisure centre. Oroh is simply a name for smoky aubergine cooked with garlic, onions, tomatoes and chillies. If you’re a fan of North Indian food, you’ll probably know it as Baingan Bharta – the Punjabi version. Oroh is the Gujarati name for it and here’s how we cook it at home.

It’s really easy to be afraid of overdoing it with this dish. You might think it’s mad to add as much garlic as my recipe calls for but please do stick with it. The burnt aubergine needs flavours that can stand up to it so that the result is smoky, spicy, punchy and tangy.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 3

I learnt to cook this when I was 12 years old and it blew my mind. I thought it was insane to cook aubergines on an open flame until they’re practically incinerated on the outside. It went against everything I thought to be true about Indian food. However, the very beauty of it was that while the outside burns to a crisp, the inside is cooked until butter-soft and smoky. Perfection.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 1

Before you start, make some holes through the aubergines – otherwise there will be explosions and they won’t be fun to clean up. I also recommend you line your gas cooker with aluminium foil. That way once you’re done, you can just lift it off and throw it away. Nobody wants to be scrubbing their cooker for hours.

I’ve added spinach to this but to make classic Gujarti Oroh, you can simply leave it out. I like the combination of leafy green spinach and melt-in-the-mouth aubergine.

Serve with hot, buttery Gujarati Chapattis. The recipe for those will be posted up next.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4

Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry – Bhaji ne Ringra Oroh
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 large aubergines
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ tsp asafoetida (optional)
1 large onion, diced finely
8 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
3 green chillies, chopped finely
390g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
250g baby leaf spinach
Fresh coriander and lemon wedges, to serve

Method

1. Make around 10 holes in each aubergine and place one on each burner of your gas cooker. Turn the flame on high and cook the aubergines for 8 minutes. Don’t touch or move them during this time. Trust me.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 2

Once 8 minutes have passed, use tongs to turn them over and cook the other sides for 8 minutes, again not moving them. Steam will escape from the holes you’ve made. It’s important not to leave the kitchen during this time! Open a window too. Once totally burnt on the outside, use tongs to place each aubergine onto a plate and set aside to cool.

2. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Cook for a minute and then add the onions. Allow to cook on a medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and chillies and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

3. Tip in the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach and freshly-chopped coriander. Cook for around 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce is thick and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes slightly.

4. Whilst the sauce is cooking, check the aubergines have cooled enough to handle. Split each aubergine lengthways and scrape out the soft inside. It’s okay if some burnt skin comes away with it but try to remove the large pieces. Chop it all up roughly and add to the tomato sauce along with the spinach. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time until the spinach has wilted and any excess water has evaporated.

5. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander and lemon wedges.

Love Sanjana

The most amazing Indian vegetarian dish you'll make again and again. 20,000 have already pinned it!

The most amazing Indian vegetarian dish you’ll make again and again. 20,000 have already pinned it!

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Comments

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20 Comments

  1. Jyotsna Modha says

    Amazing photography!!!  I could literally eat these photographs!!!   I will be makibg this  very  SOON! 

     

     

  2. Helina says

    It’s yummy! I love eggplant. I have stove top, can I broil eggplants in the oven and for how long? Thanks for sharing your recepies :)

    • Sanjana says

      Hi Helina,

      You can broil/grill the eggplants. The end result will be smoky but not as smoky as doing it on the open flame. I’d leave them under the broiler/grill for 30 minutes, turning halfway. As long as they’re totally charred on the outside, it’s fine. 

      Hope this helps,

      Sanjana

  3. Love this! I just made rotlis for the first time in prolly 5-6 years. I didn't realize they would be that easy to make. I made some channa and pea/potato shaak to go along with it as I try to cook more Gujarati food.

    Which leads me to say this eggplant/aubergine recipe looks fantastic and one I want to try  soon! One question is I don't have a gas stove, so have you tried putting alumnium foil on a the stove-top rings and was there a problem with that?

    As a Gujarati who grew up in Zambia, I am a big fan of your blog and look forward to future recipe posts! Thank you.

    • Sanjana says

      Jigsha, thanks for your comment. So glad you re-discovered rotli making! I haven’t tried with an electric cooker but you can grill them until totally charred all over. The more burnt they are all over, the better!

  4. elizabeth says

    love this recipe, my only 'tweek' is that i added a little less garlic. I also wondered if there was another way to cook the aubergine, under the grill perhaps? 

     

    • Sanjana says

      Elizabeth: Thanks for your comment. Yes, you can grill until totally charred all over. Will take a little longer so grill for at least 30 mins.

  5. Mahsa says

    I wanted to make Mirza ghasemi, a Persian burnt aubergine dish, but since I wanted to add spinach, your recipe was perfect. I made it last night and we loved it, thanks for sharing!

  6. Rich says

    Never commented on a recipe before but had to after making this! Amazing, thanks!!

  7. hi!
    it sounds great.
    i dont have a gas hob – any tips to get around it?? – roast whole in the ovan??? or under an eletric grill???

  8. Pingback: The weekly Indian meal | TMI Food

  9. Poonam says

    Hi – I made this yesterday adding a slight twist with crush peanuts and it turned out amazing! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  10. Nez says

    I had home grown aubergines and spinach and came across your recipe to use both. My partner had multiple food orgasms after eating this so i thank you Sanjana for the flavour sensation. Keep up the good food work!

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