Baigan choka, or roasted mashed eggplant, is to Trinidad and Togabo what baba ghanoush is to the Middle East. It is traditionally made by roasting eggplant over a grill until it's charred and infused with smoky flavor, then scooping out the inside and mashing it with roasted peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and butter. This is a delicious, flavorful, and creamy dish that's best served with paratha or any kind of flatbread.
Baigan Choka: Trinidadian Roasted Eggplant [Vegan]
- 1 large, firm eggplant
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves of garlic, freshly grated
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus 1/4 teaspoon for oiling the eggplant
- Wash and dry the eggplant. Take a knife and make 1-inch slits all over it. Rub the skin of the eggplant with 1/4 teaspoon of oil.
- Place the oiled eggplant and the tomatoes on an outdoor grill on high heat. If you do not have an outdoor grill, place a piece of tin foil around the largest burner of your gas stove, then place a wire rack on top and place the eggplant, tomatoes and the habanero on top of it to roast over the flame. The tin foil is to help with clean up.
- If you do not have any of these options, preheat the oven to 400°F, then place the eggplant, tomatoes, and the habanero on a baking sheet and bake until the eggplant is very soft.
- Roast the eggplant until the skin on the outside is charred and when you touch it, it is very soft. The perfect way is to roast the eggplant over a flame to get that smoky, charred flavor.
- Once the skin of the tomatoes is lightly charred and starts to juice, remove it from the heat.
- The habanero only needs to be charred on the outside as well. The eggplant will take the longest to roast.
- Once everything is roasted, remove from the flame and set on a baking sheet. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
- To get the creamy insides of the eggplant, use a knife to make a slit down the middle of the eggplant. Pull the two sides apart, to just open it and using a spoon, scoop out the insides, and place in a bowl.
- Try to not get the skin into the bowl. Using your fingers, pull the skin of the tomatoes off and place the peeled tomatoes in the same bowl as the eggplant. Add in the whole roasted habanero, salt, and butter.
- Using a potato masher or something with a flat bottom, mash until creamy and there are no lumps.
- Heat a skillet on the stove to medium heat, then add the oil and sliced onions.
- Cook the onions, stirring regularly to prevent burning until it is soft and just starting to turn brown. Add in the grated garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add in the puréed mixture to the skillet.
- You should hear a sizzling sound when you add the purée to the hot oil. Mix everything together and allow to heat through.
- Remove from the heat and enjoy with hot paratha roti (flatbread) and sliced avocados.
For the traditional baigan choka, omit the tomatoes and the butter, stick the cloves of the garlic into the slits so it cooks inside the eggplant, while it is roasting. And usually, you do not cook the onions. I don’t like raw onions so I cook mine. Adding a dab of butter brings out the creaminess of the eggplant. When choosing the perfect eggplant for roasting, be sure it is firm to touch, has a dark purple color. If you look at the top of the eggplant where the stem is, if it is just starting to turn light color then that is too old. That means the eggplant on the inside will have a lot of seed and therefore when you roast it, it will not be creamy on the inside.