Bhartha (sometimes “bharta”) is a vegetarian Indian dish best served over a bowl of jasmine rice. My favorite iterations (including the one available up the road) include peas, which add a really good pop of color and texture. Make a huge batch — you’ll be going back for thirds.
1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 pinch Black pepper, to taste
Step 1Cook the whole eggplant (stem and leaves removed) over the open flame of your burner, turning often, until the inside is soft and the outside is charred, about 20 minutes. Conversely, you may prick your eggplant with a fork and bake it in a 350° F oven until soft, about one hour.
Step 2Remove the eggplant from flame or oven, allow it cool, and chop it up; the eggplant will be mushy and it will completely collapse into a pulpy mess -- this is perfect. Help it along in this endeavor and then set it aside.
Step 3Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until nearly translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomatoes and all of the spices except for the salt. Reduce heat slightly and cook down for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 4Add eggplant and peas and mix to combine, cooking until heated through. Use the back of a wooden spoon here to mash the whole mess together if you’d rather have a smoother mix (here I raise my hand), or just live and let live if you dig it on the chunkier side. Add salt to taste, as well as any additional spices to your liking. Season with black pepper.