My recipe for this is a little unconventional, but it turns out stupendously amazing every time! So, grab two plump aubergines – secret is to not buy the heavy ones, as they are just full of heavy seeds. The lighter in weight, the better it is.
Depending on the size of the aubergines, you will need equal parts (in volume) of onions and tomatoes. Yes, that sounds a lot, but it works. Slice the onions and the tomatoes thinly, and set them aside.
Preheat oven to 175C (fan oven). Halve the aubergines lengthwise, make a few slits as you don’t want it to burst in the oven. In these slits, push through some cloves of garlic and halved green chillies. Drizzle a bit of oil and roast these for about 30-40 mins in the oven, turning over once. Purpose is to soften the aubergine through.
Remove from oven and put it into a large bowl, and cover the bowl or cling film it for half an hour as it cools down. The steam from this makes it easier to peel the skin off the aubergine. I like to keep some skin on, as I love the texture and flavour in my bhartha, but that’s totally optional.
In a pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and add 2 tsp of cumin seeds. As soon as they start sizzling, stir in the sliced onions.
Add 2 inch grated fresh ginger
roasted garlic cloves rescued from the aubergine
the roasted aubergine and green chillies
a heaped tbsp coriander powder
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
As soon as the onions start softening a little, stir in the tomatoes as well.
Add a tsp garam masala and a tsp of meat masala (I like using meat masala here, as I like the bhartha a little spicy) and bassar masala.
Cover the pot (or use the slow cooker) and let it cook for as long as you can on medium/low heat. In the slow cooker, I usually leave on low all night long. Using a potato masher, mash the bhartha and adjust the seasoning as it would vary based on the sweetness of the tomatoes, the aubergine and the onions. Sprinkle some fresh coriander leaves before serving and a little sprinkling of mango powder (amchoor powder).
This can be made and frozen in small containers for upto 3 months.