This Easy Eggplant Dish Makes Me Excited to Cook No Matter What

Skip the grill. You can get smoky flavor just by roasting a whole eggplant directly on a gas stove.

February 16, 2021
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Many of us know first-hand it’s been harder than usual to maintain fun in the kitchen through a pandemic. Between involved weekend baking projects and just trying to get three quick, nutritious, budget-friendly meals on the table day in and day out, the joy of cooking can get lost. Making dishes that are practical, but also fun and sing with flavor that makes you want to jump with glee, is no easy task. But here’s one: Suvir Saran’s Baingan Kaa Bhartaa (Smoked Spiced Eggplant), a gem of a dish.

Baingan Kaa Bhartaa, which originates from Northern India, and according to Suvir, is “like a baba ghanoush, but without the depth, or the heaviness, of tahini.” Smoked chopped eggplant serves as the foundation of the dish, and a rainbow of vegetables and aromatics – browned red onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and green chilies – add a parade of color and texture. A mix of spices, a few squeezes of lemon juice and fresh cilantro ultimately bring the vegetarian medley to life.

It’s one of the best dishes I’ve ever made in my kitchen. Paired with warm, store-bought roti, its a true delight.

As Suvir demonstrates in his class on the Food Network Kitchen app, the first – and most fun – part of making the dish is roasting a whole eggplant directly on a gas stove. The centuries-old technique, Suvir says, while common in Indian cooking, is believed to have come from Iran.

I was anxious to try this at first, but once I got the fire going, and the eggplant sat comfortably on top of the grate, I was spellbound by how foolproof the technique was. Rather than catch fire immediately, the eggplant roasted slowly, and only called for occasional rotating with metal tongs (dont use plastic — itll melt). And contrary to the babysitting I thought it would require, Suvir insists that the 10 minutes it takes to beautifully blister the vegetable is also a great time to chop the rest of your ingredients. The process of roasting is so satisfying to watch and smell. And its no-fuss nature makes it a breezy technique that yields a smoky flavor you won’t believe you achieved with the simple spark of a stove.

To see it for yourself, check out Suvir’s class and more on the Food Network Kitchen app.

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