Spicy Eggplant Bharta is the Perfect Vegetarian Main

Eggplant bharta
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
4 servings

Bharta is a rustic recipe made in homes across Punjab, in both India and Pakistan. It’s one of my all-time favourite Indian dishes, one I insisted I learn to cook as a young teen, and something you won’t find on the menu at the local Indian restaurant alongside the ever popular butter chickens, tikka masalas and garlic naans. Large eggplants are traditionally roasted over an open flame until charred, the smokey insides removed and cooked with a spicy masala. This is every day homemade South Asian cooking: simple, flavourful, and comforting. Bharta is best enjoyed with fresh paratha, skip the naan and rice for this one!

Related: Spicy Punjabi Chole (Chickpeas)



medium globe eggplants
cloves garlic, split in half
Tbsp plus 2 tsp neutral oil, divided
large onion, sliced
large Roma tomatoes, diced
green chili, finely chopped
1 ¾
tsp ground coriander
tsp ground cumin
tsp turmeric
tsp cayenne pepper
cup green peas
tsp garam masala
Cilantro, to garnish
Lemon juice, optional
Paratha, to serve


Eggplant bharta ingredients
Step 1

Preheat air fryer or oven to 350°F.

Step 2

Make four diagonal slits into each eggplant, from top to bottom being careful not to cut all the way through. Press half a clove of garlic in to each slit. Brush the eggplants with the two teaspoons of oil and place on a parchment lined air fryer basket or baking tray. Air fry or roast for 20 minutes on one side, flip and air fry/roast for another 5 minutes or until the eggplant is soft to touch.

Roasted eggplant on a baking tray
Step 3

Heat a large skillet, seasoned wok or kadhai on medium high, add in 3 tablespoons of oil and the sliced onions. Cook until the onions have softened and are just beginning to turn slightly golden.

Onions sauteeing in a skillet
Step 4

Add the tomatoes, green chilis, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook on medium heat until the oil separates from the tomatoes and they soften, about 5 minutes.

Tomatoes and spices added to pan
Step 5

Remove the eggplant from the oven, set aside to cool slightly. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skins. Roughly mash the eggplant, breaking up any chunks.

Roasted eggplant mashed in a bowl
Step 6

Add the eggplant into the tomato masala, mash with the back of a wooden spoon or spatula. Add in the green peas, mix well, cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.

Eggplant added to pan
Step 7

The bharta is ready once the peas have softened, and the oil separates from the eggplant and tomato mixture.

Step 8

Garnish with garam masala, cilantro, and lemon juice if using. Serve with warm, buttery paratha.

Eggplant bharta in a pan

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