A straightforward recipe for the beloved and traditional Maharashtrian-style Baingan Bharta, popularly known as Vangyache Kacche Bharit. It’s made by roasting a large American/Italian eggplant/brinjal/aubergine that is peeled, mashed and then mixed with sliced green chilies and chopped red onion. Finally, it’s enhanced with a tarka/tadka (hot seasoned oil) infused with green garlic.
My love for eggplant is well-known to my family and friends. I simply adore this versatile vegetable, known as eggplant, brinjal, or aubergine, depending on where you’re from. I have numerous recipes on my blog that showcase this vegetable, and honestly, I can’t pick a favorite. Indian baby eggplants are frequent visitors to my kitchen, making an appearance at least once a month. Occasionally, I also indulge in the larger Italian eggplants. One of my favorite ways to use them is to prepare the classic Indian dish, baingan bharta, a spiced and stir-fried mashed eggplant delight.
Vangyache Bharit vs Baingan Bharta
The preparation of the traditional Maharashtrian spiced roasted eggplant mash, known as Vangyache Bharit in my mother tongue, Marathi, differs significantly from the more popular North Indian Baingan Bharta, a dish commonly found on the menus of Indian restaurants worldwide. Both dishes involve roasting and mashing eggplant before seasoning it. However, the North Indian version is notably distinct. After mashing the eggplant, it is typically stir-fried in hot oil seasoned with cumin seeds, asafetida, turmeric, and garam masala. It also includes ingredients like onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies, tomatoes, and an abundance of fresh cilantro or coriander leaves. All of these aromatics, herbs, and spices contribute to the wonderful depth of flavors and textures in the otherwise neutral-tasting mashed eggplant. In contrast, the Maharashtrian counterpart may or may not involve stir-frying the roasted eggplant, but it definitely does not include the use of garam masala or other spice blends.
Vangyache Kaccha Bharit
The Maharashtrian preparation for roasted eggplant, Vangyache Bharit, is also commonly referred to as ‘Vangyache Kaccha Bharit,’ in which all the ingredients, except the roasted eggplant, are raw. Hence, the name ‘kachha,’ which means ‘raw’ in Marathi. This dish is quite similar to the popular Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dish, Baba Ganoush, and also bears resemblance to the central Indian version, Bihari baingan chokha, and the eastern Indian dish, Bengali begun poda.
In this classic recipe, roasted eggplant is peeled, mashed, and then combined with chopped red onion, sliced green chilies, minced cilantro/coriander leaves, and an optional ingredient—plain, unsweetened yogurt. It is seasoned with salt and sugar. Sometimes, it is finished off with a ‘phodni,’ which is hot oil or ghee seasoned with cumin seeds and asafetida. This is the way I have seen my mom and grandma make the bharit most times.
My Recipe for Kaccha Bharit
While I teach the North Indian recipe in my cooking classes, I prefer to make my family’s recipe that I learned from my mom when I cook for myself. However, unlike mom’s recipe, I don’t roast the eggplant on the open flame of the stove. I make the oven do a fuss free job for me. I also skip the addition of yogurt, as I’m not a fan of it but I do finish the dish with the ‘phodni’ or ‘tadka/tarka,’ which is the hot seasoned oil and that’s where I put my own spin. In addition to seasoning the oil with cumin seeds and asafetida, I enjoy adding green garlic as a flavor enhancer. If I can find fresh green garlic, I use that; otherwise, I use frozen chopped green garlic available at my local Indian grocery store. If you can’t find green garlic, you can simply chop a couple of cloves of garlic and mix them with green onions to flavor the oil. Either way, it works well and enhances the flavors of this humble dish I grew up eating.
I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen. You can serve as a dip with cut up whole wheat rotis, parathas or naans or simply as a vegetable side dish with the breads or also on the side of daal and steamed basmati rice!
½ cup frozen or fresh chopped green garlic (see Notes)
1 small red onion, diced (see Notes)
1 small green chili, like Thai or birdseye, thinly sliced (use Serrano or jalapeño for milder flavor or skip all together)
2 tbsp neutral cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp asafetida
salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper
3–4 cilantro sprigs, leaves and tender part of stems, chopped
Preheat the oven to 450 deg F. (see Notes)
With a paring knife or a fork, prick the eggplant all over.
Use an oven safe baking dish or line a baking sheet with foil. Using a cooking spray or a pastry brush, lightly coat the eggplant with a thin layer of oil.
Lay it on the baking dish or sheet and roast until soft all the way to the center and the skin is brown, about 30-40 mins, rotating the pan and flipping the eggplant halfway through.
Remove from the oven and let it cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin of the eggplant, scoop the flesh out and mash until it’s relatively mushy. Add in the chopped red onion and sliced green chilies.
Rinse the frozen green garlic under tap water in a mesh sieve to thaw it quickly and set aside.
In a small sauté pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat and when it starts shimmering, add cumin seeds along with the asafetida. Stir in the thawed green garlic (or the green onions along with chopped regular garlic, if using) and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
Spoon the seasoned oil with green garlic and cumin over the mashed eggplant, onions and chilies. Season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
Stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve along with rotis, parathas or naan.
Frozen green garlic is available in Indian stores or the fresh variety is available at farmers markets seasonally. Alternatively you can use the same amount of green onion along with 2-3 minced large cloves of regular garlic cloves if you can’t find it.
Milder Flavor Tip
You can use sliced green onions for a milder flavor compared to the red onions.
Using your AirFryer
If you have an air fryer, you can follow the steps to prepare it and instead of roasting in the oven, you can air fry it for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the eggplant, at 400 deg F.
Mix in about ¼ cup of plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt to make my family’s recipe.
Mix in thawed green peas or blanched fresh peas for a hint of natural sweetness.
Add chopped tomatoes for a pop of red color and juicy freshness.
Stir in a handful of roasted peanuts for an added crunch
Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.