I can often have a glut of things in the fridge or food cupboard. At the moment, it’s spinach, which I accidentally bought an extra bag of (ideas for a recipe, anyone?). As the title implies, on this particular occasion, I had a few extra baby aubergines lurking around in the fridge. In the end, I decided to use them to make a quick and simple bhorta (or Satni as we call it in the area of Bangladeshi my family are from), which would loosely translate to chutney in English. In simple terms, it is just a process of mashed aubergines/eggplant along with some onion, chilli and coriander. I decided to leave the aubergines slightly chunky for a bit of texture rather than completely puree them. A subtle smokey taste is added to the dish by pan roasting the aubergine and onion.
Though a simple and economical dish, bhortas are a great alternative to curries as they are light and fresh tasting. As you can eat them cold, they are great for warmer days when you might not fancy eating something hot. There is just a hint of spice from the fresh green chillis and the few drops of mustard oil, however it is subtle and complements the overall fresh notes of the bhorta.
Traditionally, Bengalis will eat various types of vegetable bhortas with plain rice, however, as this aubergine bhorta is quite similar to aubergine dips, I think it could also taste pretty good with wedges of pita bread as a dip.
Bhaingon Bhorta (Aubergine Chutney)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
1 large aubergine or 4 baby aubergines
1/2 medium sized onion
2 green chillis, chopped
handful of coriander. chopped
1-2 tablespoons mustard oil (optional)
salt to taste
1) Place a large skillet or frying pan on a low heat and allow to heat up for about a minute or two. Place the whole, unpeeled aubergine on the pan. If you have space, you can also add the onion to the pan, cut side down. If you don’t have space, you can dry roast the onion afterwards.
2) Leave both the onion and aubergine to slightly char and lightly roast. Turn the aubergine over every so often, so that the sides cook evenly on all sides. The aubergine will be cooked when it slightly charred on its sides and it is soft. It should take 5-10 minutes. The onion should also char slightly and soften slightly.
3) Remove aubergine from heat. Peel off skin and discard. Mash the aubergine using a fork or your hands. You can mash it until is completely smooth or leave it a little chunky.
4) Take the roasted onion, and slice. Combine onion with aubergine, then add the chilli, corriander and mustard oil. Mix well. Season to taste. Serve with plain rice.