Begun Bhaja: The Irresistibly Yummy Eggplant Fritters
Image Credit: Begun Bhaja

We all like fried potatoes, but what if we told you that instead of the ubiquitous potato, you can choose eggplant, baingan chips, or roasted baingan? The best of these eggplant snack - the Bengali-style Begun Bhaja is a fuss-free, delicious, showstopper delicacy that is eaten as a starter or as a snack. In Bengali, the word begun stands for eggplant or aubergine and in Hindi its baingan and the word bhaja means fries. It is a traditional Bengali dish that has won the hearts of millions of people for centuries, it is still cooked in Bengali homes today.

Apart from being succulent and amazingly tasty, eggplant is considered vital for soundness. It is considered good for people with diabetes, as they are extremely high in fibre, polyphenols and low in calories. Foods that are rich in polyphenols can reduce the absorption of sugar and increase the secretion of insulin, which helps promote blood sugar control that is needed to keep diabetes in check.

Colleen Taylor Sen, a culinary historian, discovered a baingan recipe in the Pakashastra, the first known Indian cookbook. This 760-verse composition was transmitted orally, making it challenging to date precisely. However, the majority of estimations date it to the same time as the Mahabharata. Most theories suggest that the baingan plant travelled from India to South-East Asia, and then China during the prehistoric or ancient periods. When the rest of the world was just discovering the baingan, we in South and East Asia were making delectable cuisine with it. 

Here’s the recipe for Bengali-style Begun Bhaja.


1. 1 eggplant large (350 to 375 gms)

2. 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder or paprika

3. ½ tsp turmeric powder (ground turmeric)

4. ½ tsp sugar (optional)

5. ½ tsp garam masala (optional)

6. 1 tsp dry mango powder (optional)

7. Salt, as required

8. 5-6 tbsps rice flour or gram flour

9. 6-7 tbsps mustard or sunflower oil

Begun Bhaja/

1. Rinse the eggplant properly in water.

2. Now, slice the eggplant in thick round discs.

3. Now sprinkle turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, salt and sugar on the eggplant slices. You can also use garam masala powder and dry mango powder.

4. Mix the ground spices and seasonings evenly all over the eggplant slices. 

5. Set aside to marinate the eggplant slices for 5-7 minutes. 

6. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of mustard oil in a shallow frying pan or skillet.

7. Take rice flour in a plate and coat the eggplant slices evenly with it and dust off the extra rice flour.

8. Gently place the coated eggplant slices in the medium hot mustard oil.

9. Pan fry until crisp and golden brown on both sides on medium heat.

10. Then, flip them a couple of times. 

11. Once they become nicely crisp and golden, place the bhaja on paper towels, so that the extra oil is absorbed. 

12. Serve Baingan Bhaja hot.

Known for its unique taste and simplicity, this dish is crispy and crunchy from the outside, and soft and melt-in-the-mouth on the inside.