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Begun Bhaja

Feb/26/2023 / by Malathy Chandrasekhar

A great Bengali snack that serves well as an appetizer or side dish

Begun bhaja
Begun bhaja. Pic courtesy Healthy Indian

Begun bhaja is a delightful Bengali snack made with eggplant. It is traditionally deep fried in mustard oil (most Bengali recipes use the oil for cooking). I avoid deep frying mostly for health reasons, but also because I’m not good at it. The few times that I tried deep frying, I ended up making a mess, so I decided that’s not for me. Works in my favor as it is not that healthy anyway. 😊

Picking Eggplant for Begun Bhaja

While eggplant is a great vegetable that can be cooked in several different ways, it is important that you pick the right one for the recipe you have in mind. For instance, when I cook stuffed eggplant I prefer small, round, purple eggplants with green stalks. For begun bhaja, I usually prefer a large but somewhat slim eggplant, again with a green stalk. This is a tip I got from my mom: a green stalk suggests that there are very few seeds. I dislike seeds in eggplants as they mess with the flavor and get stuck in the teeth.

Begun bhaja is an easy snack recipe that can also work as an appetizer or a side dish. It is an easy recipe with minimal ingredients. As with most Indian recipes, there are a few different ways to cook this dish and the ingredients can also vary slightly. I learned this recipe from a Bengali friend, who is a great cook. I did make some minor tweaks, but it is mostly her recipe. Since she is very health conscious, she sautés the eggplant here, without compromising much on the taste.

Why is this Healthy?

Eggplants contain flavonoids, such as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments with many health benefits and which gives the eggplant its dark purple color. The skin of the eggplant is rich in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium.

The Recipe

While it is traditionally deep fried, our version is a sauté, with minimal oil.

Special Diet: Gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Marinate: 10 minutes

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 2 people

Calories: 116 kcal

INGREDIENTS

Marinade:

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp dry mango (amchur) powder
  • 1/4 tsp sugar, powdered
  • 2 cups eggplant, medium-sized, sliced

Sauté:

  • 1 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1/4 tbsp sea salt. Or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dry mango (amchur) powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili or cayenne powder
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil

METHOD

Initial Marinade:

  1. Mix salt, turmeric, amchur powder and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Cut eggplant into thin, round slices and lay slices on a plate. Set aside for 10 minutes, to allow moisture to drain out. Using a cloth or paper towel, dry out the moisture. Sprinkle marinade mix evenly on the slices (first on one side, flip over and sprinkle on the other side).

Sauté:

  1. Add chickpea flour, salt, chili powder and dry mango powder to a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Gently dab each eggplant slice on both sides and set on a plate.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Cook eggplant on both sides till golden brown. Serve hot.

Notes

Enjoy hot and crispy begun bhaja as a snack or appetizer.

*Use organic ingredients wherever possible

For the full recipe, visit https://healthy-indian.com/recipes/begun-bhaja/

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