Begun Bhaja Recipe | Eggplant Fry

5 from 1 vote
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Begun Bhaja,” also known as “Baingan Bhaja” or “Eggplant Fry,” is a popular and delectable Bengali dish that celebrates the flavors of eggplants.

This traditional recipe hails from the Indian state of West Bengal and has become a cherished part of Bengali cuisine.

The name “Begun Bhaja” can be broken down into two parts: “Begun,” which means eggplant, and “Bhaja,” which translates to fry or shallow-fry.

The dish features slices of tender eggplant, coated with a simple yet flavorful spice mix, and then shallow-fried to golden perfection.

Begun Bhaja

Key Takeaways:

  • Begun Bhaja is a popular and delectable Bengali dish celebrating the flavors of eggplants.
  • The dish features tender eggplant slices coated with a flavorful spice mix and shallow-fried to perfection.
  • To make the best Begun Bhaja, choose fresh and firm eggplants, slice them evenly, and use a well-seasoned spice mix.
  • It can be served with steamed rice, dal, Luchi, or paratha, among other accompaniments.
  • For alternatives, you can try Aloo Bhaja, Karela Bhaja, Paneer Bhaja, Bhindi Bhaja, Arbi Bhaja, Baingan Bharta, Raw Banana Fry, or Lau Bhaja.

The Ingredients

Begun Bhaja Ingredients

How to Make Begun Bhaja (Step by Step Images)?

1. Take a mixing bowl and add all the spices: salt, gram flour, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and turmeric powder. Mix them well.

Mixing salt, gram flour, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and turmeric powder

2. Add the eggplant pieces to the dry mixture. Set it aside for 10 minutes and cover it with a plate.

Adding the eggplant pieces to the dry mixture

3. After 10 minutes, the mixture will be slightly soggy. Now, heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan. Let the pan become hot.

Heating oil in a pan

4. Add all the eggplant slices one by one into the pan. Keep the flame to medium. Cover it with a lid and let it cook for 5 minutes.

Adding all the eggplants one by one into the pan

5. After 5 minutes, flip the eggplant slices to the other side and let them fry until both sides are golden brown.

Flipping the eggplant slices

6. Begun Bhaja is ready. Take them out and serve on a plate.

Begun Bhaja is ready
Pro Tips for Making Best Begun Bhaja

To achieve the best Begun Bhaja, here are some pro tips that will help you elevate the flavors and ensure a perfect outcome:

Choose the right eggplants: Opt for small to medium-sized eggplants that are firm, glossy, and without any blemishes. Avoid using large or overripe eggplants, as they tend to have more seeds and can be bitter.

Slice the eggplants evenly: Slice the eggplants into thin, even slices to ensure they cook uniformly and become crispy. Aim for slices that are about 1/4 inch thick.

Prepare a well-seasoned spice mix: The spice mix plays a vital role in enhancing the flavor of Begun Bhaja. A simple blend of turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, and salt works wonderfully. Adjust the spice level to your preference.

Coat the eggplant slices evenly: Gently coat each eggplant slice with the spice mix, ensuring it’s evenly distributed on both sides. The spice mix should complement the natural taste of eggplants without overpowering them.

Use the right oil and temperature: For frying, use a neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as mustard oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil. Heat the oil to the right temperature, around 350-375°F (175-190°C), to ensure the eggplants cook quickly and evenly without absorbing too much oil.

Use a shallow-frying method: Shallow-frying the eggplant slices in a pan with a moderate amount of oil will give you the best results. This method allows the slices to cook evenly and become crispy without absorbing excessive oil.

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Drain on paper towels: Once the eggplant slices are fried to a golden brown, place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. This helps keep them crispy and prevents them from becoming greasy.

Serve immediately: Begun Bhaja is best enjoyed fresh and hot. Serve it immediately with a side of steamed rice or as an accompaniment to your main course for a delightful culinary experience.

By following these pro tips, you’ll be able to make the best Begun Bhaja that’s crispy, flavorful, and sure to be a hit with your family and guests.

What to Serve with Begun Bhaja?

Begun Bhaja is a versatile dish that pairs well with a variety of accompaniments. Here are some traditional and popular options to serve with Begun Bhaja:

Steamed Rice: The classic and most common way to enjoy Begun Bhaja is with steamed white rice. The crispy texture of the eggplant complements the softness of the rice, creating a satisfying combination.

Dal (Lentil Soup): Serve Begun Bhaja with a bowl of comforting dal. The earthy flavors of the lentil soup balance the spiciness of the eggplant, making it a perfect combination.

Luchi or Paratha: In addition to rice, you can also serve Begun Bhaja with Bengali-style deep-fried bread called Luchi or with flaky parathas.

Remember, the choice of accompaniment can vary based on personal preferences and regional traditions.

Feel free to experiment and discover your favorite combinations to enhance the enjoyment of this delicious Bengali dish, Begun Bhaja!

How Does Begun Bhaja Taste?

Begun Bhaja is a delightful dish that offers a burst of flavors with every bite. The taste of Begun Bhaja can be described as follows:

Crispy and Crunchy: The eggplant slices are shallow-fried to perfection, resulting in a slightly crispy and crunchy texture on the outside. This slightly crispy exterior is one of the highlights of the dish.

Tender and Moist: Despite the crispiness on the outside, the eggplant remains tender and moist on the inside. The frying process seals in the natural juices of the eggplant, creating a soft and succulent center.

Spicy and Flavorful: The spice mix coating the eggplant slices infuses them with a delightful blend of flavors. The spices typically include turmeric, red chili powder, cumin, and salt, giving Begun Bhaja a mildly spicy and aromatic taste.

Slightly Bitter: Eggplants can have a slight natural bitterness, which can add depth to the overall taste of Begun Bhaja. The bitterness is subtle and balanced by the spices used in the recipe.

Earthy and Nutty: The combination of eggplant and spices creates an earthy and nutty flavor profile, which is characteristic of many traditional Bengali dishes.

Comforting and Homely: Begun Bhaja’s flavors are comforting and remind many people of homemade, homely meals that evoke a sense of nostalgia and warmth.

The beauty of Begun Bhaja lies in its simplicity and the way it allows the natural taste of eggplants to shine through while being enhanced by the spice mix.

The slightly crispy exterior, tender interior, and aromatic flavors make Begun Bhaja a delightful and satisfying dish that is loved by many, both in Bengal and beyond.

Begun Bhaja Alternatives

If you’re looking for alternatives to Begun Bhaja or want to explore similar dishes with different ingredients, there are several options you can try. Here are some delicious alternatives to consider:

Aloo Bhaja (Potato Fry): Replace eggplant with thinly sliced potatoes for a scrumptious and crispy Aloo Bhaja. The potatoes are seasoned with spices and shallow-fried until golden brown. Aloo Bhaja is a popular side dish in many Indian households.

Karela Bhaja (Bitter Gourd Fry): If you enjoy unique flavors and textures, try making Karela Bhaja. Thinly sliced bitter gourd is marinated with spices and then shallow-fried until crispy. The bitterness of the gourd is balanced by the spices, resulting in a tasty dish.

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Paneer Bhaja (Fried Cottage Cheese): For a vegetarian delight, Paneer Bhaja is an excellent option. Cut paneer (cottage cheese) into thin slices or cubes, marinate with spices, and shallow-fry until golden and crisp. It’s a flavorful and protein-rich alternative to Begun Bhaja.

Bhindi Bhaja (Okra Fry): Bhindi (okra) is another popular vegetable that can be fried to perfection. Cut the okra into thin strips, coat them with spices, and shallow-fry until crispy. Bhindi Bhaja pairs well with rice or flatbreads.

Arbi Bhaja (Colocasia Fry): Arbi (colocasia) is a root vegetable that can be sliced and fried like potato chips. The crispy Arbi Bhaja is seasoned with spices and makes for a unique and delicious side dish.

Lau Bhaja (Bottle Gourd Fry): Thinly sliced bottle gourd can be seasoned and fried to create Lau Bhaja. This light and healthy alternative go well with a simple dal-rice meal.

Baingan Bharta: If you enjoy the flavors of eggplant but want a different preparation, Baingan Bharta is a great option. It involves roasting eggplant over an open flame, mashing it, and then cooking it with spices, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. It has a smoky and distinct taste.

Raw Banana Fry: Raw bananas, thinly sliced and coated with spices and chickpea flour, make for a tasty and crunchy alternative to Begun Bhaja.

These alternatives offer a variety of flavors and textures while keeping the essence of shallow-frying intact.

Depending on your preferences and the availability of ingredients, you can experiment with these alternatives to create a delightful meal.

Recipe Card:

Begun Bhaja Featured Image

Begun Bhaja (Eggplant Fry)

By Mita Mondal
Begun Bhaja is a popular and traditional Bengali dish that showcases the delicious flavors of eggplants, also known as "begun" in Bengali. "Bhaja" refers to the cooking technique used in the dish, which involves shallow-frying.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marination Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 129 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pieces Eggplant (cut into round shape & cleaned)
  • 2 tbsp Gram flour
  • 1 tbsp Cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp Coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp Red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric powder
  • 3 tbsp Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the salt, gram flour, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and turmeric powder. Mix the spices well to create a flavorful blend.
  • Cut the eggplants into thin, round slices and add them to the dry spice mixture. Gently toss the eggplant slices in the spices until they are evenly coated. Set the bowl aside for about 10 minutes, allowing the spices to marinate the eggplant.
  • After 10 minutes, you'll notice the mixture has become slightly moist due to the eggplant's natural moisture being released. This step is crucial as it helps the spices adhere better to the eggplant during frying.
  • Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of mustard oil (or any neutral oil of your choice) in a pan over medium heat. Let the oil become hot before adding the eggplant slices.
  • Carefully place the spice-coated eggplant slices one by one into the hot oil. Ensure not to overcrowd the pan, allowing the eggplant to fry evenly. You can fry them in batches if needed.
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let the eggplant slices cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. The lid helps to partially steam the eggplant, making them tender on the inside.
  • After 5 minutes, flip the eggplant slices to the other side using a spatula. Continue frying until both sides turn golden brown and crispy.
  • Once the eggplant slices are fried to perfection, remove them from the pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  • Your flavorful and crispy Begun Bhaja is ready to serve! Arrange the slices on a serving plate and enjoy them hot as an appetizer or as a delicious accompaniment to your main course.

Video

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Notes

Eggplant Selection: Choose fresh and firm eggplants for the best results. Look for eggplants with smooth, shiny skin and no visible blemishes. Avoid using overripe or large eggplants, as they might have more seeds and a bitter taste.
Salting the Eggplant: Sprinkling salt on the eggplant slices and letting them sit for about 10 minutes helps draw out excess moisture. This step ensures the eggplants fry up crispier and reduces the amount of oil absorbed during frying.
Spice Mix: The spice mix can be adjusted according to your preference for spiciness. If you prefer it milder, reduce the amount of red chili powder, and if you like it spicier, add more. Experiment with the spice levels to suit your taste.
Oil for Frying: Traditionally, mustard oil is used for Begun Bhaja, which adds a distinct flavor to the dish. However, you can use any neutral oil with a high smoke point for shallow-frying, such as vegetable oil or sunflower oil.
Shallow-Frying Technique: Shallow-fry the eggplant slices on medium heat to ensure they cook evenly and become crispy without becoming too greasy. If the heat is too high, the outside may burn before the inside is cooked through.
Cooking Time: The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the eggplant slices and the heat level. Keep a close eye on the slices to avoid overcooking or burning them.
Paper Towel Drain: Once the Begun Bhaja is fried, place the slices on a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. This step helps retain the crispy texture and prevents the dish from becoming too oily.
Serve Immediately: Begun Bhaja is best enjoyed fresh and hot. Serve it immediately after frying for the best taste and texture.
Versatility: While this recipe focuses on the basic spice mix, you can experiment with additional spices or herbs to create your own unique flavor profile.
Accompaniments: Begun Bhaja pairs well with steamed rice, dal, or a variety of Indian bread like Luchi or paratha. 
Remember, making Begun Bhaja is an art that gets better with practice. 

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Begun Bhaja (Eggplant Fry)
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
129
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
12
g
18
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
7
g
Sodium
 
911
mg
40
%
Potassium
 
159
mg
5
%
Carbohydrates
 
6
g
2
%
Fiber
 
2
g
8
%
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
2
g
4
%
Vitamin A
 
614
IU
12
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
35
mg
4
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

Begun Bhaja or Eggplant Fry is simply a delicious fried eggplant recipe offering a delightful blend of spices, resulting in a flavorful and crispy dish.

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The process of mixing the spices and allowing the eggplant to rest before frying ensures that the flavors penetrate the vegetable, creating a delectable taste.

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