Planning The Plan: Eggplant Bharth

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One of the things I struggle with is meal planning. I enjoy cooking, but not when I feel like someone is holding a gun to my head. My job requires me to be organized and to stay on top of it all. But let's just say it all falls apart when I get home.

I fantasize about taking an evening a week to plan and sort out all my meals for the upcoming week. In this fantasy, I would scour the shelf for orphaned cooking supplies to put to good use, stumble upon an interesting recipe in one of our dozens of cookbooks or think of an old childhood mainstay. Then I would hit 2-3 grocery stores over the weekend to get the required ingredients and voila! Somehow all of this would translate to piping hot, fresh, and INNOVATIVE meals through the week.

The reality is as follows: I stagger home on a weeknight, open the fridge and stare at nothing in particular for a whole five minutes. Then a flash of inspiration hits me before I realize that a key required ingredient is missing. My brain freezes and I frantically look for leftovers that can be refashioned into a respectable dinner. I crave a Chettinad Chicken, but what I see is stale rice and wilted broccoli. Then I morosely cobble something together, sometimes old, sometimes new. And resolve to plan better for next week. How do you all do it?

In the meantime, here is the result of a rare instance of meal planning that happened this past weekend, allowing a pair of eggplants who had become best friends in my refridgerator to finally achieve nirvana.

Roasted Eggplant Bharth

This dish is the Mangalorean variant of Eggplant Bharta. Traditionally made using smoked eggplant which requires some time and patience, I instead broiled the babies in the oven with equally good results. Make sure you choose mid-sized longish eggplants to get your bang for the buck, since once peeled, you could be left with very little to eat!

2-3 medium eggplants
1/2 cup grated coconut
6 dry red chillies
1 ball of tamarind
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
Cilantro leaves
Salt to taste

Place eggplants on a baking tray and broil in oven for 15-20 minutes or until the skin starts to look a little charred and begins to crack. Set aside to cool.

While the eggplant is broiling, dry roast red chillies gently in a small saucepan. Blend the coconut gratings, red chillies and tamarind ball into a smooth paste. Heat oil in a small saucepan or seasoning spoon and toss in the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, remove from flame and add to the blended paste.

Your eggplants should have cooled by now. Skin them, discard the skins and mash the pulp thoroughly with your hands or a flat spoon. Add salt and mix thoroughly before adding to the coconut paste. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

This dish is served at room temperature. It is a great side dish or can also be served as an appetizer, with pita chips or bread.

Serves 4


  1. It's ok for the tamarind to be uncooked? In Madras we've been conditioned to have a horror of raw tamarind.


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