9 Must-Try Eggplant Dishes For Every Foodie
Image Credit: Freepik

Eggplant, also known as aubergine or brinjal, is a versatile vegetable used in cuisines around the world. Though commonly referred to as a vegetable, it is botanically classified as a berry and is part of the nightshade family. Its distinct oblong shape and deep purple hue make it easily recognisable in produce aisles and markets. 

The smooth, meaty interior makes eggplant a great addition to a variety of dishes. It has a mild, earthy flavour that pairs well with bold seasonings and spices. Eggplant can be baked, roasted, grilled, sautéed, or fried, holding up well to high-heat cooking methods. It absorbs flavours and oils exceptionally well. Common preparations include baba ghanoush, a smoky eggplant dip; caponata, an Italian eggplant relish; and ratatouille, a French vegetable stew. 

Eggplant is also popularly breaded and fried into crispy eggplant parmigiana. In Indian cuisine, it stars in baingan bharta and is used in many curries. Grilled eggplant makes tasty sandwiches, or it can be simply seasoned with olive oil and herbs. With its versatility, eggplant enriches both savoury and sweet recipes across the world.  

Baingan Bharta   

Image Credit: Freepik

Baingan bharta is a vegetarian main course from North Indian cuisine featuring the ubiquitous eggplant. To make this dish, large eggplants are roasted whole on an open flame until the skin is charred and the flesh has softened. The eggplants are then peeled and mashed into a chunky pulp. 

This smoky, creamy eggplant puree forms the base of the baingan bharta. The mashed eggplant is sautéed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper and garam masala, and herbs like cilantro.   

Bharwa Baingan  

Image Credit: Freepik

Bharwa baingan, also known as 'stuffed eggplant', is a mouthwatering dish made by stuffing eggplants with an aromatic spice and herb filling. This vegetarian specialty is a staple in Indian cuisine, especially in the state of Maharashtra, where it is affectionately called 'Bharli Vangi'. 

To make bharwa baingan, slender purple Indian eggplants are slit lengthwise and filled with a zesty paste of spices like cumin, coriander, and red chilli powder, along with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. The stuffed baingans are then either braised dry or cooked in a rich, flavourful curry gravy until tender.   

Eggplant Tikka Masala  

Image Credit: Freepik

Eggplant tikka masala is a delicious Indian dish made by first marinating cubes of tender eggplant in a blend of aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, chili powder, turmeric, and garlic. The spiced eggplant pieces are then roasted or grilled until lightly charred and softened. 

Next, a fragrant, creamy tomato sauce is prepared by sautéing onions and tomatoes with ginger, garlic, and spices. Once the sauce has simmered, the smoky grilled eggplant is added in and gently cooked until heated through and well-coated in the rich, red gravy. The finished dish offers a wonderful contrast of textures from the soft eggplant and velvety sauce.  

Baingan Musallam   

Image Credit: Freepik

Baingan musallam is a decadent Mughlai dish often prepared for festive celebrations in India. Also known as Mughlai Baingan Masala, this rich curry features brinjals (eggplants) that are sliced, deep-fried until golden brown, and then simmered in a creamy, aromatic gravy. 

To make baingan musallam, first slice brinjals and soak in salt water to remove bitterness. Drain, pat dry and deep fry in oil until crispy and browned. For the gravy, sauté onions, garlic, ginger and spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric and red chilli powder. Add the puréed tomatoes and simmer until thickened. Stir in heavy cream or yoghurt for richness. Add the fried brinjals and simmer until tender and absorbed in the gravy.   

Baingan Pakora  

Image Credit: Freepik

Baingan pakora is a beloved Indian tea-time snack made using tender, purple-skinned brinjals (eggplants) that are sliced into rounds or cubes, coated in a spiced chickpea flour batter, and deep-fried to a crispy golden-brown perfection. To make baingan pakora, first slice fresh brinjals into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and sprinkle with salt to draw out any bitterness. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, spices like cumin, coriander, chilli powder, garam masala, salt, and just enough water to form a thick, coating batter. Dip the brinjal slices into the spiced batter to generously coat. In a kadhai or deep pot, heat the oil to 350°F and fry the battered brinjals a few at a time until deeply golden. Drain on paper towels and serve piping hot with sweet tamarind chutney for dipping.  

Dahi Baingan

Image Credit: Freepik

Dahi baingan is another delicious dish, perfect for the summer season. It is a famous Odia dish featuring spicy brinjals cooked in a yoghurt-based gravy. To make this dish, the brinjals are first fried until golden brown to soften them. They are then cooked in a gravy made of yoghurt, spices like coriander, cumin, and red chilli powder, and fresh curry leaves and garlic. The natural cooling properties of the yoghurt help counterbalance the heat from the spices. When the brinjals are very tender, the gravy has thickened and the flavours have married, the dahi baingan is ready to be served.  


Image Credit: Freepik

Bhaghaar-e-baingan, a popular Hyderabadi side dish served with biryani, is a curry made of brinjals simmered in a creamy, coconut-based gravy. The gravy is infused with the aromas of mustard seeds, red chilies, and curry leaves tempered in oil. 

To make this dish, eggplant slices are first shallow-fried to soften them without completely cooking through. The partially cooked brinjals are then combined with a sauce of pureed onions, tomatoes, coconut milk, and spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red chili powder. This mélange is simmered until the eggplant pieces are very tender and have absorbed the complex flavours of the gravy.  


Image Credit: Freepik

Beguni is a traditional Bengali snack that is loved for its crispy exterior and soft interior. To make this treat, slender eggplant slices are dipped in a spiced chickpea flour batter and then deep-fried until golden brown. As the batter hits the hot oil, it quickly crisps up into a delicate shell, encasing the meltingly tender eggplant inside. The chickpea flour provides a nutty flavour and crunchy texture that contrast nicely with the creamy, soft eggplant. 

While frying, the eggplant releases its moisture, concentrating its flesh and natural sweetness. Part of what makes beguni so addictive is the interplay between the crispy exterior that shatters when you bite into it and the lush, smooth eggplant interior. This snack is often served as an appetiser or side dish in Bengal and brings a burst of flavour and texture to any meal.  

Khatte Meethe Baingain   

Image Credit: Freepik

Khatte meethe baingan is a mouthwatering North Indian dish that makes creative use of baby eggplants. The name itself hints at the interplay of flavours: khatte, meaning sour and meethe, meaning sweet. 

Small eggplants are combined with the sweet and sour punch of tamarind and jaggery to create a unique medley of tastes. Additional spices like cumin, coriander, and red chilli add warmth and complexity. To make khatte meethe baingan, start by sautéing onions, tomatoes, and aromatic spices like cumin and bay leaves. 

Next, add the baby eggplants and let them cook until tender before introducing the tamarind pulp and jaggery. Allow the eggplants to simmer in this sweet and sour gravy, soaking up the incredible flavours. Finally, finish with chopped cilantro before serving this incredible dish with hot Indian flatbreads or rice.