We will never understand why people cook eggplant to a mushy pulp when tender roasted and all sauced up is clearly the way to go. Indian eggplants are ideally suited for this purpose with thinner skins, and sweeter flavor. Based on baingan bharta, we took the things we loved most about the traditional version of this dish and made Roasted Stuffed Indian Eggplants served over pan roasted cauliflower with a powerhouse sauce. We used Urban Accents Kashmir Garam Masala, a distinctly awesome masala blend made by a distinctly awesome Chicago-based business. We have no affiliation with the company, but share hometown pride, and an affinity for good food and supporting local small businesses. Therefore, we can honestly say that their masala blend is the bees freaking knees.Print
For the Eggplants
- 8 fresh Indian eggplants (baby eggplants), roughly the same size, 3-4″
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
For the Stuffing & Sauce
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes (unsalted and unseasoned, with liquid)
- 1/2 tsp Urban Accents Kashmir Garam Masala
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/8 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, more if you like it hot
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, rough chopped to 1/2″ pieces, about 4 firmly packed cups
- Cilantro and lime wedges for serving
Doing the Prep
- Wash and dry eggplants, dice the tomato and onions and set aside separately. Add ground cumin and coriander, salt and pepper, half of the ground ginger, and lime juice to a medium bowl and set aside (this is to season the eggplant stuffing).
- Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds to a small bowl and set aside.
- Add Urban Accents Kashmir Garam Masala, turmeric, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, and remaining half of the ground ginger to a small bowl and set aside (this is the sauce seasoning).
- Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven* over medium heat. Once hot, add the seed mixture to the pan. Stir as needed and watch closely to avoid burning. As soon as the seeds begin to sputter and pop (about a minute), remove from heat and carefully transfer 2 tablespoons of the oil back to the small bowl that held the seeds. Some of the seeds will transfer with the oil, that’s cool. Set aside (we will use this later).
Starting the Stuffing & Sauce
- Return Dutch oven to medium heat, add the onions, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until browned and beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic, stir and cook just until fragrant, about a minute. Remove from heat and transfer half of this onion mixture to the bowl with the stuffing seasoning.
- Add the canned tomatoes (with liquid), diced tomatoes, and the sauce spice mixture to the Dutch oven, stir and cover. Set oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Putting it Together
- While oven is preheating, quarter each eggplant lengthwise, stopping about 1/4 of the way from the to top. From the bottom, it will like a deep “X” has been cut into each eggplant. Carefully stuff the seasoned onion mixture into the eggplants, then return any excess stuffing to the Dutch Oven.
- Stir the sauce and use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the pan. Nestle the eggplants, stem side up, together in the center of the pan. Take care not to lose any stuffing (if you do, just throw it in the pan). Brush the tops and sides of the eggplants with half of the reserved oil. We know, they look so cute.
- Roast covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and continue roasting another 10 minutes, until all eggplants are soft and tender (but not mushy and gross).
- While eggplants are roasting, core and roughly chop a medium head of cauliflower into 1/2″ pieces. Add remaining oil (and any seeds) to a large sauté pan and heat the pan over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat, then cover and cook 5 minutes (should be slightly browned). Flip , cover and cook another 5 minutes, then remove from heat until ready to use.
- Let eggplants sit 5 minutes after full cooking time, then divide cauliflower between four plates or bowls, leaving a space in the center of the cauliflower to nestle two eggplants on each plate. Divide the sauce between the plates, spooning over the cauliflower. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges, if desired. The perfect bite will have cauliflower, a slice of eggplant with stuffing, and sauce on the fork.
Store leftovers in a glass airtight container (turmeric will permanently stain plastic). Chop eggplant up and reheat gently in a pan with cauliflower, sauce, and a splash of water.
*We used a 6-quart, enameled Dutch oven. If you don’t have one, prepare stuffing and sauce in a in a large sauté pan and transfer to a casserole dish that has a lid to roast. A decent Dutch oven is worth the investment and will last a lifetime if you take care of it but doesn’t have to cost a gazillion bucks. Look for deals around the holidays and at the end of wedding season. These are also great estate sale and thrift store finds – even if they appear scorched on the outside. As long as the interior enamel is free of cracks and in good shape, a can of Barkeeper’s Friend cleanser and some elbow grease will have it looking like new in no time. A good Dutch oven can’t be beat for even heat distribution and slow and low cooking. It’s the original one-pot meal maker.
Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (1/4 RECIPE) – Calories: 188, Fat: 3.9g, Saturated Fat: 2.6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2.3g, Cholesterol: 0g, Sodium: 472mg, Potassium: 1087mg, Carbohydrates: 37.8g total/25.1g net, Fiber: 12.7 Sugar: 17, Protein: 9, Vitamin A: 14%, Vitamin C: 142%, Calcium: 26%, Iron: 8% (based on 2,000 calorie diet).
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Category: Entrée, Dinner
- Method: Stove Top, Oven Roasting
- Cuisine: Plant-Based, Indian, Paleo
- Diet: Vegan
Keywords: VEGAN, INDIAN EGGPLANT, STUFFED BABY EGGPLANT, VEGETARIAN, BAINGAN BHARTA, CURRY, PLANT-BASED, GLUTEN-FREE, GRAIN-FREE, PALEO, LOW-FAT