Begun Bhaja is a classic Bengali style fried eggplant. It is one of the most favorite and common dish prepared with eggplant. You can serve Begun Bhaja in several different ways. You can pair it with Khichuri (rice and lentil porridge), or with Luchi (fried bread) and my absolutely favorite is to enjoy it with rice, ghee and few green chilies on the side.
Bengali Begun Bhaja (2 ways)
You can prepare Begun Bhaja in two different ways. You can either coat it in a thick batter and deep fry. Or you could dust it lightly with some dry rice flour and fry it on the skillet with very little oil.
Most days I go for the skillet version without any batter but somedays I like to indulge, so I go the battered deep-fried version.
For the skillet version, I prefer frying in a cast iron skillet as it gives a lovely char.
Prepping the Eggplant
The classic style of slicing the eggplant for Begun Bhaja is to slice it into 1.5 cm thick circles. If the eggplant is too big, you can ofcourse make it semicircle.
Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil and if you follow the key step below, you will use less oil to fry the eggplant. And it will become tastier too.
On its own, eggplant is creamy, but lacks flavor. As for the texture, it’s like a sponge so, if you don’t soften it prior frying, changes are you will keep adding oil and it will keep soaking.
Key Prep Step
Layer the sliced eggplant on a colander and sprinkle it with little salt and sugar. The sugar and sugar will soften the texture of the eggplant as it will release the moisture. It will also season the eggplant. Place the colander on a plate.
Leave it aside for 30 minutes and you will notice a lot of water got collected on the plate.
Batter for Begun Bhaja
It’s a simple batter that you prepare with rice flour, semolina, all-purpose flour, salt, turmeric, nigella seeds and water to make the batter.
You can make a gluten free batter by using a mix of chickpea flour with rice flour.
Frying the Eggplant
On the skillet fried eggplant with little oil - If you decide to not use the batter, rub turmeric of the softened sliced eggplant and then dust it with some rice flour. Fry the eggplant on a skillet with little oil. Press the eggplant slices gently as it fries and sizzles on the other side.
Battered Deep fried Begun Bhaja – Fry enough oil to deep fry the eggplant. Then dip the softened eggplant slices on the batter and shake off the excess batter. Then carefully slide it on the hot oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
I always prefer to keep the deep fried eggplant on a cookie wire rack instead of a kitchen towel. On a cookie wire rack, the heat escapes keeping the eggplant crispy. On a kitchen towel, the steam gets trapped at the bottom which makes the fried eggplant soggy.
Enjoy it while warm!
Reheating Fried Eggplant
For the skillet fried eggplant, you can either microwave or warm it on the skillet again using little oil.
As for the battered deep-fried eggplant, the best way is to reheat it in the oven. Place the fried eggplant on a cookie wire rack and bake at 350 F for 7 to 8 minutes. Reheating in microwave will make it soggy.
Skillet fry or deep fry, either way you prepare, Begun Bhaja is delicious and you cannot stop at one. It’s a ridiculously easy recipe and if you haven’t tried before, you absolutely should. My absolutely fav way to enjoy eggplant is with rice and ghee. It’s my utmost comfort food and I always land up eating more rice.
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon semolina
- 2 tablespoon rice flour
- ½ teapsoon nigella seeds
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Slice the eggpant into ⅕ cm thick. Then score it lightly on both the sides.
- Layer the sliced eggplant on a colander and sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt and sugar. Then leave it aside for 30 minutes.
- When you are ready to fry the eggplants, prepare the batter. In a bowl add the all purpose flour, semolina, rice flour, nigella seeds rest of the ½ teaspoon salt and turmeric. Whisk and then pour water little by little to make a batter thick enough to quote the eggplant slices.
- In a work or skilet pour enough water to deep fry the eggplant. Heat the oil to medium.
- Then dip the eggplant slice in the batter and shake off the excess batter and carefully slice it on the hot oil.
- Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until it looks golden brown.
- Take it off the hot oil and layer it on a cookie wire sheet.
- Enjoy it warm.