A spicy puree of aubergines, Bharta (BAR-tah) is a vegetable dish which is usually served as part of a North Indian meal.

It is easy to make and very tasty.

2 lb. aubergines

1 lb. tomatoes, blanched, peeled and cut into pieces or

14 oz. canned peeled tomatoes, drained

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

5 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil onion, finely chopped garlic cloves, crushed

12-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon salt juice of z lemon

Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).

Wash, dry and cut the aubergines in half lengthways. Make 2 or 3 gashes in the pulp of each aubergine half. Place the aubergine halves pulp-side up in a baking dish. Cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, scoop the pulp from the skin with a spoon. Put the pulp into a medium-sized mixing bowl and discard the skins. Mash the pulp with a fork. Mix in the tomatoes, coriander, cumin, turmeric and 1 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves. Stir to mix and set aside.

Heat the clarified butter, or vegetable oil, in a large frying-pan over high heat. Add the onion, lower the heat and, stirring frequently, fry for 8 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent, but not brown. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli (if you are using it) and fry for another 5 minutes, still stirring.

Add the aubergine mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick. Taste the mixture and add the salt if necessary. Put the bharta in a heated serving dish, squeeze the lemon juice over the top, sprinkle with the remaining chopped coriander leaves and serve.

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