In places like Bengal and Bihar, certain recipes that have evolved across hundreds of years use two key ingredients for creating their unique flavours: cold-pressed Mustard Oil and a quintessentially Indian mixture of five spices known as Paanch Phoron (‘Paanch’ means five; ‘Phoron’ means spices). You can buy Paanch Phoron in packs or you can make it at home by mixing Fenugreek (Methi) seeds, Nigella (Kalonji) seeds, Cumin (Jeera) seeds, Black Mustard (Sarson) seeds and Fennel (Saunf) seeds in equal portions.
Here’s a traditional Eggplant (Baingan) recipe that makes excellent use of these two ingredients. Eggplant is also known as Aubergine or Brinjal.
The ingredients that you will need are:
Eggplant (Baingan): 1, large
Mustard Oil: 3 tablespoon
Onion: 1, small (chopped)
Tomato: 1, small (chopped)
Green Chilli: 1, chopped
Garlic Cloves: 3, chopped
Paanch Phoron: one-and-a-half teaspoon
Salt: to taste
Wash the Eggplant and then roast it by placing it directly over a low flame. Continue roasting till the outer surface of the Eggplant becomes charred – make sure that you roast it long enough for the insides to also get cooked. Once this is done, carefully take the Eggplant off the flame (use tongs) and dunk it in a bowl of cold water. When the burnt Eggplant returns to room temperature, take it out of the bowl and peel off the charred outer skin. Mash the Eggplant to a pulp (in India, this is called a Bhartha) and keep aside.
Heat the Mustard Oil in a pan. Add the Paanch Phoron. Once the spice starts spluttering, add the garlic, onion, green chilli and salt. Sauté for a few minutes till the onion takes on a pearly, translucent texture. Add the tomato and continue to sauté till the tomato is cooked (but make sure it doesn’t turn mushy).
In a separate bowl, place the cooked spices, garlic, onion, green chilli and tomato mixture. Add the mashed Eggplant and mix thoroughly.
Your traditional Baingan Bhartha is now ready. It is usually eaten with roti or rice.