Vankaya Bajji-Baingan Bharta

My husband being a vegetarian I always try to find cooking the same vegetables in different styles so we don’t get bored of the food we eat.Given my culinary background I am not the one to eat the same type of food everyday. In a given month we hardly repeat a vegetable or dish on our menu.This is one such attempt to make the eggplant shine.
‘Bharta’ is a dish in which the ingredients are roughly mashed. This dish is a composition of fire roasted eggplant, tomatoes,onion and chili which are then cooked down to a soft mash.This dish is prepared in a similar fashion to Salsas and can be served as a dip with chips as well. This dish is also called Vankaya Bajji in telugu.
This style of cooking hails from older generations where most of the cooking is done on wood fired stoves or over direct fire without a lot of use of spices.The fire roasting gives a smoky flavor to the dish which makes it an excellent accompaniment to Roti or Rice.
Preparation time 20 minutes
Serves 4
Serving Size 1/4 portion
Calories Per Serving Approximately 65 per serving
Difficulty Easy
1 globe large eggplant
2 teaspoons oil/ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/ 2 medium-sized onion sliced
6 green chilies
finely chopped fresh green coriander leaves for garnish
1 stem curry leaves
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder(optional)
salt to taste
2 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves with peel
1.Fire roast the eggplant evenly on all sides till the juices start to ooze and skin starts to peel off.Let cool and peel the skin and rough chop the eggplant and keep aside.
2.In a grill pan or on the grill roast the onions, tomatoes, garlic and green chili till they get a light char on them.You must be able to peel the skin off on the tomatoes and rough chop them.Peel the skin off the garlic and chop.Rough chop the onions and slit the green chili in half.
3.Heat oil/ghee in a pan and add the mustard seeds and let splutter, then add the cumin seeds and curry leaves along with the turmeric powder and let splutter.
4.Add the onion,garlic, green chili and salt and saute till soft.
5.Now add the tomatoes and saute till soft, adding water if required.
6.Now add the eggplant  and cook till it is soft and adjust salt, if you need more spice add the red chili powder to taste and turn off the stove.Garnish with cilantro.
Serve hot with Rice or Roti.
Reduce the amount of green chili or red chili if you don’t eat a lot of spice.
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