The Trinidad style of Baigan Choka is very simple when compared with the many varieties of Baigan Chokha from India and of the closely related dish, Baingan Bharta. The Trinidad version is lighter and simpler in flavours, but still so delicious. I am constantly amazed how a simple shift in ingredients can create an utterly different dish.
This style of eggplant dip is served with roti, naan, paratha or other flatbread. This recipe, one of Ottolenghi’s, uses hot oil flavoured with onion and some vigorous whisking to achieve a wonderful creaminess and subtlety. To make it even milder, leave out the garlic and use less chilli, if you like, but I like it spicy and will sometimes add a squeeze of lemon juice. Not traditional but I like the way it brings all the flavours together.
As mentioned, it is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. We have not made changes in this recipe, but for his original writings check his books and his Guardian column.
Browse all of our Eggplant dishes and all of our Bharta recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. If you are interested, all of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.
ingredients for two to four
3 medium aubergines (900g)
1 mild red chilli
0.5 Tblspn olive oil
0.5 Tblspn sunflower oil
0.5 small onion, thinly sliced (50g)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tblspn chopped chives
The best way to get the required smoky flavour into your aubergines is to cook them directly over a gas flame – line the area around the hob heads with foil and place the aubergines over three medium flames. Roast for about 15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the skin is burnt all over. Likewise, roast the chilli over a flame for a minute or two, until it blisters and chars.
But don’t worry if you don’t have a gas hob – just grill the aubergines – indoors or on a BBQ grill. This can take 30 mins or more – turn every 10 mins until collapsed and cooked.
Remove the aubergines from the heat and leave to cool a little before scraping out the flesh and discarding the skin. Place the flesh in a colander to drain for at least 30 minutes. Peel the skin off the chilli, remove the seeds and finely chop the flesh.
Put the aubergine and as much chilli as you like in a large bowl and whisk vigorously for two to three minutes, so it turns light and creamy (use a hand-held electric whisk, if you want).
Heat both oils in a tadka pan or small pan and add the onion. Fry on a high heat for just over a minute, stirring often, to cook the onion just a little – you want it to remain crunchy – then pour the hot oil and onion into the aubergine mix and keep on whisking for another minute. Add the garlic, chives and sea salt to taste, and whisk a little longer. Taste, add more salt, if you like, and serve.
recipe notes and alternatives
In India, a little mustard oil would be used in place of the olive and safflower oils. Coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon would be added.