Crispy and crunchy from the outside, and soft and melt-in-the-mouth on the inside. Baingan Bhaja or fried eggplant discs are one of the most famous Indian dishes made of eggplant. No Bengali vegetarian meal is complete without it. It goes well with rice, poori, or khichdi.
Growing up, this was my favourite eggplant dish. I enjoyed it with white rice and lentils. When I started cooking, it was a pleasant surprise to find out how easy it was to prepare. You can make it two ways. One is without any batter, just by shallow frying it. Another way is to dip it in gram flour and rice flour batter and deep fry it. My mom used to make the shallow fried one, and I love both. On special occasions, I make the deep fried ones. On normal days, however, I try to cut down on oil, so I shallow fry them in a cast iron pan /heavy bottomed pan. I love to air fry them as well. However, if you are making baingan bhaja in a large quantity, baking them on a wire rack in the oven is the most practical solution.
How To Prepare Eggplant for Frying-
Basic preparation is the key for making perfect baingan bhaja. You can shallow fry or deep fry, the perfect texture will depend on your basic preparation.
First, wash the eggplant and dry it with a paper towel. Slicing the eggplant is the next step and the ideal thickness is 1.5 inches to 2 inches. Do not make it very thick or thin.
Then, coat eggplant slices with turmeric powder, salt(using little red chilli powder is optional at this stage). Keep them on the wire rack after coating. Also, make sure you keep something under the wire rack. Keep it for 30 minutes. You will see that in this time eggplant has released some water, and that is the secret of making crispy eggplants.
How Can You Use leftovers?
Reheat shallow fried eggplants on a flat griddle or air fryer, but do not use a microwave. Microwaves will make it soggy. If you are reheating deep fried ones, however, use an oven. Bake them on a wire rack to prevent soggy bottoms. I love to use an air fryer most of the time for this purpose as it takes less time and keeps them crunchy.
I will strongly recommend that you eat it just after frying, or when it's still hot. It tastes awesome, and I also believe you won't stop after just eating one.
How to Make Batter for Frying the Eggplant
I prefer to use a batter of gram flour, rice flour (you can substitute with corn starch ), a little red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, and water. This batter is gluten-free. Also, do not make this batter too thick or thin as you need a running batter which just lightly coats the eggplant slices.
How To Fry Baingan Bhaja
I prefer to use a cast iron pan for shallow frying. Furthermore, a little dusting of rice flour, turmeric powder, salt, and red chilli powder on the eggplant is done before shallow frying it. In a cast iron pan, doing it is easy as it doesn't involve lot of oil and always comes out just perfect.
For deep frying, you need a heavy bottomed wok or cast iron skillet. Doing it on medium /high flame is important as it does not absorb a lot of oil at that temperature.
You May Want To Check These Eggplant Recipes
Baingan Bhaja/ Eggplant Bengali Style
- 8-10 Eggplant Slices
- ½ Tsp Salt
- ½ Tsp Turmeric Powder
For Making Batter
- 2 Tbsp Gram Flour
- 3 Tbsp Rice Flour
- ½ Tsp Turmeric Powder
- ¼ Tsp Salt,
- Water ,for making a thick pourable batter.
- Oil,for deep frying.
- Wash and dry the eggplant .
- Slice it into slightly thick (1.5 to 2 inch )Pieces.
- Coat them with turmeric and salt and leave them in colander ,bowl or wire rack for 30 minutes.They will release water.
- Prepare the batter with all the ingredients.Batter should be lump free.
- Take a wok /heavy bottomed pan /cast iron pan.
- Add oil for deep frying.
- Dip eggplant disc in the batter.Shake off the excess batter.
- Fry on medium/high flame ,for 1-5 minute on each side or till they look golden brown on both sides.
- Place it on the wire sheet to prevent soggy bottom.Do not place them on paper towel .This will make them soggy.
- If needed just use paper towel to absorb excess oil.
- Serve when it is still hot.