Roast Eggplant Purée
Bebeji always made bhartha with peas, but cousin Birinder prefers it with extra sliced onion. Whichever way you like it, you will love the smoky eggplant taste. The plastic wrap idea came from Alton Brown of Good Eats.
2 medium/large eggplants
1 large red onion, chopped
1/8 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inches piece ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 green chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup thawed green peas or 1 cup sliced red onion
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Preheat the oven or grill to 400°F. Wash and prick the eggplants and place on an oiled baking sheet or grill (indirect heat). Roast for 40 minutes or until soft, turning every 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the eggplants from the oven or grill and allow to cool. Wrap each eggplant in plastic wrap except for green end, cut the green end off and squeeze the flesh into a colander in the sink. Drain for ten minutes. Discard the peel and plastic wrap. (This step may be done the day before and the eggplant pulp refrigerated.)
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the chopped onion in the oil until transparent. Add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add the ginger, stirring. Add the spices and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and chile pepper and sauté for a few more minutes.
Add the eggplant pulp and the peas or onion slices. Stir occasionally while cooking for 5 minutes on medium heat. Lower heat, cover tightly, and simmer for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. This dish may be refrigerated until serving time and then reheated and garnished. After placing in a serving dish, sprinkle with garam masala and cilantro.