I could not believe it when I I tasted this eggplant bharta that my Aunt Lakshmi had made. It's a traditional Indian dish, but it had no, (absolutely NO) spices or spice blends added, other than turmeric (which is simply for the color rather than flavor). Except for fresh ginger and green chilies to give the dish a bit of flavor, it seemed so improbable that I had to try it for myself. This time I substituted finely minced serranos and fire-roasted poblano chiles, which boosted the smoky quotient a notch.
2 medium Italian or white eggplants
2 to 3 poblano chiles
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the vegetables
1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger root
1 cup finely sliced or diced red onion
1 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch salt, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime)
Step 1Rub the eggplants with a bit of oil, puncture them to enable steam to escape, and grill them over a gas flame or grill until the skin is charred and they're cooked through.
Step 2Rub the poblanos with oil and place over a grill basket and grill them over a gas flame as well until the skin gets charred. Set the eggplant and poblanos aside to cool while you slice the onions and mincing the ginger.
Step 3Peel the charred skin off the eggplant and poblanos and mash them together into a pulp.
Step 4Heat the oil and add the minced ginger. Sauté for a minute and add the onions to fry until they become translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook down until thick.
Step 5Add the salt and turmeric, give it a stir, and then add the mashed eggplant/poblano mixture. Add half of the chopped cilantro. Stir, cover, and simmer on a low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes until the flavors of the ingredients combine. Check every couple of minutes to see if there is sufficient moisture. (If not, sprinkle in some water and cover again).
Step 6Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with lime juice, and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve warm with pita bread or Indian roti.