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Namaste, happy day!

October 22, 2010

So my roommate just found out that he will be getting a job after a stressful job hunt. We appropriately celebrated with a local Merlot and a spicy Indian Baigan dish. There is nothing like a party with Indian breath shared by all (read: garlic, onion, ginger, cumin). Baigan means “eggplant”* or more appetizingly “aubergine” (everything that comes from French is more appetizing, non?). When done the Indian way, it becomes dark, delicious, and creamy. You add lots of Indian spices and all of a sudden a feared and misunderstood vegetable becomes a purple pleasure to leave your guests mouths agape in wonder. (It must be noted that the main ingredient for this dish was acquired from the outdoor Byward Market in Ottawa, an amenity that sadly closes in the winter. We are taking advantage of it now while it lasts.)

I have included the recipe that I use and modify each time. If I were you, I would double the recipe and make more than you need, because Indian food always tastes better the next day, nuked in the micro. This dish is not complete without rice (1.5 c. for double recipe). So, although I give you amounts for the recipe ingredients for the non-fatty population, I still insist you double everything. Leftovers are fun.

This is one of those vegan dishes where you don’t even realise you are eating vegan and you don’t need anything else to “complete” the meal. However, If you’re feeling enthusiastic or have some extra time, you may want to make other Indian dishes to complement this one, make some vegan naan bread, or just make a nice side salad.


Baigan (“mashed eggplant”) – a modified recipe by joe vegan


  • 1-2 eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil + more for eggplant
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (not diced)
  • 1 tsp – 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger (this is totally up to your ginger threshold. I tend to put lots)
  • 1/2 can whole/diced tomatoes – (I recommend whole ‘maters, and you dice them yourself)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Dice up eggplant, put in colander add lots of salt and let sit for as long as you can (0.5 – 2 hours). (This is to dehydrate it somewhat.) When done, wash off salt, drain, and pat dry.
  2. Cook eggplant at about medium on the stove in some oil, stirring often, for about a half hour or until they lose most of their water and turn a darker color. The texture and taste of the eggplant really comes out this way.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds, and let them brown for a few seconds. Don’t let them get too dark though. Add onion, ginger and garlic; cook and stir until tender, but again, don’t burn. Stir in the tomato, and season with all the spices. Cook and stir for a few minutes.
  4. Place the eggplant pieces in the skillet, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes so some of the moisture evaporates. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve over rice.

*Thank you Manizeh for correcting me on this!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Perrier Chartreux permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:05 pm

    Mmmm, this sounds delicious ! I am def. buying an eggplant in Kensington tomorrow ! !
    Thanks Joe xo

  2. Francisco (Roommate) permalink
    October 22, 2010 8:28 pm

    Once again, it was amazing!

    Can you make it again this coming week? Sí? Sí? Sí? Ándale, por faaaaaa!!!

  3. October 22, 2010 8:44 pm

    Looks amazing! Any left overs that I have tonight? I’m hungry :(

  4. Manizeh permalink
    October 22, 2010 9:28 pm

    Looks delicious (the coconut stir fry from your last post looks amazing too). I thought “bhurtha” referred to the style of preparation, not the eggplant – the bengali cognate “bhortha” certainly does, since you can have “tomato bhortha” or “aloo (potato) bhortha” too. I think “baigun” is eggplant, so the dish is “baigun bhurtha”, which gets shortened to just “bhurtha” on most menus and recipe sites. That said, this looks way more appetizing than the usual baigun bhortha.

    • October 22, 2010 10:30 pm

      Thanks Manizeh! I apologise for making the assumption on the translation. I just have come across so many spellings of “eggplant” on Indian dishes (probably some misspellings by anglophones), I just thought that this was yet another version. I will edit post accordingly. Thanks for the correction!

  5. shawn permalink
    October 22, 2010 11:06 pm

    I agree, leftovers are fantastic, yet so many people are against them…I don’t get it.
    Looks delicious, keep it up!

  6. October 23, 2010 6:50 am

    Found your blog and will definitely be making Baigen this weekend. Thanks and great job! Love the title, too…genius!

    • November 1, 2010 10:01 pm

      Thanks! You’ll have to let me know how that turned out for you! You’d be the first to let me know if I can actually write recipes.

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