French-Indian. Mexican-Japanese. Thai-Chinese. Fusion cuisine? Not really my brand of gin.
But when you have a family who is originally Afghan, now settled in Pakistan- invariably, there will be lots of ‘fusion-cuisine’ type of dishes prepared in the kitchen.
Baingan bharta is a soft, earthy and velvety mound of mashed aubergine; a typical Pakistani vegetarian dish. It has notes of cumin, caramelised onions and is spiced up with red chili pepper or fresh green chilies.
In this case , the bharta is crowned with yoghurt and savoury mince, like borani- a quintessential Afghan/Persian dish.
Instead of the traditional Pakistani way of adding fresh coriander leaves, we use mint to add another dimension of fresh flavour, just like with borani.
Eat with Basmati rice, naan or chapati.
Serves 4 with a side dish
You will need to pre-heat your oven to 425F
*2 large aubergine
*2-3 tbsp olive oil
*salt to taste
*1 medium + ½ a small onion, minced
*1 tbsp whole cumin seeds (zeera)
*2 small green chilies chopped (de-seed if you want less heat)
*1 lb mince meat, beef, (not lean)
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1 tsp tomato paste
*7 oz tomato sauce/stewed chopped tomatoes/passata
*pinch chili pepper
*Greek or other thick yoghurt like labneh
*handful of fresh mint, torn by hand
Step 1: Prepare the savoury mince:
* In a heavy-bottomed pan add meat, salt, 1 minced garlic clove, ½ minced onion, tomato paste, 7 oz tomato sauce, a pinch of chili pepper and turmeric, 1 cup water. Stir, cover and leave to cook on a low-medium flame for one hour.
*Stir/check every 20 minutes to make sure the liquid is evaporating and the meat is not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
*When the water has evaporated and the mince looks ‘saucy’, stir and turn the heat off.
Step 2: Prepare the bharta:
*Turn your oven to 425F.
*Pierce aubergine with a fork and lay them on a tray lined with aluminium foil in the oven for one hour and twenty minutes.
*When they are almost ready, they will appear to be wilted and soft.
*Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
*Scoop out the flesh from the aubergines, discarding the skin.
*Add olive oil to a large frying pan and place on medium-high heat.
*Add 1 medium chopped onion and stir, when the onions start to turn golden, add cumin seeds and sauté for one minute till fragrant.
*Add aubergine flesh, salt and chilies and turn heat to high.
*Sauté rigorously for 5 minutes, till you see that all the excess liquid has been absorbed.
*Turn heat off and set aside.
Step 3: Assemblage:
*The bharta and savoury mince should be warmed before serving.
*Spread a layer of bharta at the bottom of a large dish.
*Slather in the middle with yoghurt like in the photo above, allowing bharta to peek out from the sides.
*Arrange savoury mince on top.
*Garnish with fresh mint.
*Serve with chapati, naan or basmati rice.