September 20, 2014

Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 4

I live and breathe Gujarati food. They are simple vegetarian dishes I eat every evening, and have done since I was young. Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry (Oroh) was one of those dishes mum would cook as a midweek dinner after our evening swim at our local leisure centre.

What is Oroh?

Oroh is simply a name for smoky aubergine cooked with garlic, onions, tomatoes and chillies. If you’re a fan of North Indian food, you’ll probably know it as Baingan ka Bharta – the North Indian version. Oroh is the Gujarati name for it and here’s how we cook it at home.

Baingan ka Bharta is a part of the national cuisines of all nation states of the Indian subcontinent. It’s a well-loved vegetarian dish that’s made by mincing aubergine or eggplant that is grilled over charcoal or direct fire. At home we do it over direct fire.

A whole head of garlic?!

It’s really easy to be afraid of overdoing it with the garlic in this dish. You might think it’s mad to add as much garlic as my recipe calls for but please do stick with it. The burnt aubergine needs flavours that can stand up to it so that the result is smoky, spicy, punchy and tangy.

Can beginners make Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry?

Absolutely! This is one of the first dishes my mother taught me to cook. I’d seen her make it a million times before and it was a favourite in our home. Gather your ingredients and take your time roasting the aubergines over the open flame. Why? Because this is where the dish gets a tonne of flavour so it’s important to get this bit right. Finally, don’t skimp on the charring.

My love affair with Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

I learnt to cook this when I was 12 years old and it blew my mind. I thought it was insane to cook aubergines on an open flame until they’re practically incinerated on the outside. It went against everything I thought to be true about Indian food. However, the very beauty of it was that while the outside burns to a crisp, the inside is cooked until butter-soft and smoky. Perfection.

Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry 1

Some important things to remember when making this aubergine curry:

What can I add instead of spinach?

I’ve added spinach to this but to make classic Gujarati Oroh, simply leave it out. I like the combination of leafy green spinach and melt-in-the-mouth aubergine. Similarly, I’ve made this successfully with kale. Note: kale takes longer to cook than spinach so keep this in mind when simmering for a final time. It’s likely to take around 10-15 minutes longer.

How to serve Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

Serve with hot, buttery Gujarati Chapattis.

Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry

Smoky aubergine cooked over an open flame + a WHOLE HEAD of garlic! This Indian Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry is a sure-fire hit with spice lovers. Yum!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: aubergine, curry, grilled, spinach, vegan
Servings: 4
Author: Sanjana

Ingredients

  • 3 large, aubergines eggplant
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil or any flavourless oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida optional
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 8 large cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 hot green chillies finely chopped
  • 390g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 250 g baby leaf spinach washed and squeezed of excess water
  • Fresh coriander, lemon wedges and chopped green chillies to garnish

Instructions

  • Make around 10 holes in each aubergine and place one on each burner of your gas cooker. Turn the flame on high and cook the aubergines for 8 minutes. Don’t touch or move them during this time. Trust me.
    Burning aubergines
  • Once 8 minutes have passed, use tongs to turn them over and cook the other sides for 8 minutes, again not moving them. Steam will escape from the holes you’ve made. It’s important not to leave the kitchen during this time! Open a window too. Once charred on the outside, use tongs to place each aubergine onto a plate and set aside to cool.
    Burnt fire-cooked aubergines
  • In a large pan, heat the oil and add the cumin seeds and optional asafoetida. Cook for a minute and then add the onions. Allow to cook on a medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and chillies and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • Tip in the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach and freshly-chopped coriander. Cook for around 15 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce is thick and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes slightly.
  • Whilst the sauce is cooking, check the aubergines have cooled enough to handle. Split each aubergine lengthways and scrape out the soft inside. It’s okay if some burnt skin comes away with it but try to remove the large pieces. Chop it all up roughly and add to the tomato sauce along with the spinach. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time until the spinach has wilted and any excess water has evaporated.
  • Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander, chopped green chillies and lemon wedges.

Notes

  • This curry can be made 48 hours in advance. The flavours get better with time so it’s a great make-ahead recipe!
  • Make a double batch and freeze half for later! Allow the curry to cool completely, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost and room temperature and ensure the curry is piping hot before serving.
  • This curry is traditionally eaten with chapattis and salted lassi. Badasses can add a side of Gujarati Lasan ni Chutney if they like. Yeah, MORE GARLIC!
  • Once your cooker has cooled down completely, you can lift off the foil lining and wipe down as normal.
 

Love Sanjana

The most amazing Indian vegetarian dish you'll make again and again. 20,000 have already pinned it!
The most amazing Indian vegetarian dish you’ll make again and again. 20,000 have already pinned it!

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24 responses to “Melt-in-the-Mouth Burnt Aubergine and Spinach Curry”

  1. Jyotsna Modha says:

    Amazing photography!!!  I could literally eat these photographs!!!   I will be makibg this  very  SOON! 

     

     

  2. Helina says:

    It’s yummy! I love eggplant. I have stove top, can I broil eggplants in the oven and for how long? Thanks for sharing your recepies 🙂

    • Sanjana says:

      Hi Helina,

      You can broil/grill the eggplants. The end result will be smoky but not as smoky as doing it on the open flame. I’d leave them under the broiler/grill for 30 minutes, turning halfway. As long as they’re totally charred on the outside, it’s fine. 

      Hope this helps,

      Sanjana

  3. Nandita says:

    What an awesome recipe. And great photography to boot 🙂

  4. A Home Cook says:

    I so love eggplant, and this recipe looks great. Thank you for sharing it and your great pics.

  5. Jigsha Desai says:

    Love this! I just made rotlis for the first time in prolly 5-6 years. I didn't realize they would be that easy to make. I made some channa and pea/potato shaak to go along with it as I try to cook more Gujarati food.

    Which leads me to say this eggplant/aubergine recipe looks fantastic and one I want to try  soon! One question is I don't have a gas stove, so have you tried putting alumnium foil on a the stove-top rings and was there a problem with that?

    As a Gujarati who grew up in Zambia, I am a big fan of your blog and look forward to future recipe posts! Thank you.

    • Sanjana says:

      Jigsha, thanks for your comment. So glad you re-discovered rotli making! I haven’t tried with an electric cooker but you can grill them until totally charred all over. The more burnt they are all over, the better!

  6. elizabeth says:

    love this recipe, my only 'tweek' is that i added a little less garlic. I also wondered if there was another way to cook the aubergine, under the grill perhaps? 

     

    • Sanjana says:

      Elizabeth: Thanks for your comment. Yes, you can grill until totally charred all over. Will take a little longer so grill for at least 30 mins.

  7. rahma says:

    i dont have tin tomatoes .. so many tomatoes will i need to cut ?

  8. Mahsa says:

    I wanted to make Mirza ghasemi, a Persian burnt aubergine dish, but since I wanted to add spinach, your recipe was perfect. I made it last night and we loved it, thanks for sharing!

  9. Rich says:

    Never commented on a recipe before but had to after making this! Amazing, thanks!!

  10. helen says:

    hi!
    it sounds great.
    i dont have a gas hob – any tips to get around it?? – roast whole in the ovan??? or under an eletric grill???

  11. […] week I made spinach and burnt aubergine curry, dry chickpea curry and carrot […]

  12. Poonam says:

    Hi – I made this yesterday adding a slight twist with crush peanuts and it turned out amazing! Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  13. Nez says:

    I had home grown aubergines and spinach and came across your recipe to use both. My partner had multiple food orgasms after eating this so i thank you Sanjana for the flavour sensation. Keep up the good food work!

  14. […] One of the mutual friends of Peter and me, Dylan found this recipe and recommended it to us. It is also called “Bhaji ne Ringra Oroh” and can be found at: https://www.sanjanafeasts.co.uk/blog/2014/09/melt-in-the-mouth-burnt-aubergine-and-spinach-curry […]

  15. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. Made it a couple of times. It is so delicious

  16. Katy says:

    This is quite simply one of the finest curries ever to hit my face. And trust me, I’ve eaten a LOT of fine curries! Followed your instructions to the letter and it was perfect – for once, a recipe I didn’t want to tweak! Thank you so much!

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