Baingan Bharta & the Colorado Get Movin' Challenge

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Hello, August!  It's been a full month since I last blogged.  The intention to post has been there -- I have at least ten e-mails to myself in my inbox with post ideas, I've been cooking, and I was totally inspired by a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  But then… crickets.  

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I'm hoping to turn things around this month, starting with my role as an Ambassador for the LiveWell Colorado Get Movin' Challenge.  For the month of August, I've committed to exercising for at least 30 minutes a day and am hoping to inspire others to join me.  If you live in Colorado, please join the challenge today!  Since the Ironman last fall, I've been a bit lax about exercising and I think this month's challenge will help me get back into gear.  Every time I exercise, I feel better mentally and physically but it is still SO hard to get out there and do it every day.  I've included a few photos in this post from my favorite places to work out on the Front Range - Centennial ConeBergen Peak, and North Table Mountain.  Coloradans have no excuse when it comes to working out -- we should be out there taking advantage of our spectacular surroundings every day!

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I'm in San Francisco for work for a few days so I'm kicking off the challenge with a run to the Presidio from my hotel.  In addition to exercising more, I'm going to make a concerted effort to eat healthier this month.  To get started, I made a tasty eggplant dish courtesy of Mark Bittman.  Eggplants hold such promise with their shiny purple skin and fun shape, but I am never thrilled with the outcome.  The dishes I've made in the past tend to be bland and I had basically written off ever making something as tasty as what you get in a restaurant.  In Indian restaurants, Baingan Bharta is my go-to dish.

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Baingan Bharta is a traditionally a South Asian dish that includes the spice blend Garam Masala, which varies by region but typically includes cinnamon, black and white peppercorns, cloves, cumin seeds, and cardamom pods.  An added bonus to making this is that I was able to use a jalapeño pepper from my own garden!  I started small this year and just planted jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, basil, and a lone eggplant, but it has been so fun harvesting everything.  We'll be eating pesto well into the winter… as for the jalapeños (10 on the plant and counting), I've yet to figure out what to do with all of them.  Any ideas?

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Baingan Bharta

Adapted from

Mark Bittman, NY Times

Yield = 4 servings

Notes - One of the coolest things about this recipe was grilling whole eggplant, which I'd never done before.  I was worried that I wouldn't know when they were done, but it was obvious when the eggplant "collapsed" and was cooked inside.  After about 10 minutes, they were cool enough to peel and it really was a breeze.  I'll be using this method again!  I served this with naan that I picked up at the grocery store - it wasn't great, but you do want to serve this with something for "scooping."  Pita bread would work well, too, but be sure to warm it up just prior to serving.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant (approximately 3 medium-sized eggplants)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh hot green chile like a jalapeño, or more to taste, diced (discard seeds for less heat)
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, thin stems included
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (if you enjoy extra heat)

Preparation

1.  Prick the eggplant with a thin-blade knife all over. Grill over or next to very high heat, turning as necessary until the skin is blackened and the eggplant collapses. Or broil, or roast on a heated cast-iron pan in the hottest possible oven. It will take about 20 minutes.

2.  When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel (this will be easy) and trim away the hard stem. Chop or mash in a bowl, with lime juice.

3.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chiles and cook for another minute. Add the tomato, turmeric and salt. Cook until the tomato is soft, 5 minutes or so.

4.  Stir in the eggplant purée and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, garam masala, paprika, and chili powder (if you are using it) and turn off the heat. Serve hot with warm naan bread or pita, or over rice.

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