Roasted eggplant or Baigan Choka is a delicious easy vegetarian recipe. There are so many variations of roasted eggplant made by different cultures. This recipe is reminiscent of Baba Ghanoush but is made with different spices. It is made the way I grew up eating in Guyana and what I make for an easy side dish to go with roti or bake. It was much loved by my grandfather, who would often fill the house with the smell of roasting eggplant and tomatoes from the wood fireside. Baigan means eggplant in Hindi, while choka refers to the method of roasting vegetables and blending them with spices. Roasting eggplant can be done over an open wood fireside, foil wrapped over a charcoal or gas grill, roasted over a gas stove, broiled or roasted in an oven. Since it is a very popular West Indian dish, many of us use a different or more convenient way of doing it, depending on our location Some do not include tomatoes in their Baigan choka, like Guyanese do. I have not found that an open flame over a gas stove imparts a smoky flavor when wrapped in foil. The traditional method is roasting over a wood fire which does give a smoky flavor and I do this in the great outdoors over a wood camp fire. For a great overview on how to use the open flame on a gas stoves method, check out this article.
As a busy mom and grandmom, I want the flavors of home and the modern conveniences. It also gives me time to lime while cooking instead of standing over a hot stove. I don’t mean eating lime but in Guyana and the Caribbean “to lime” or “liming” means, doing nothing while sharing food, drink, conversation and laughter. It is a cultural phenomenon. In fact, it’s not uncommon for locals to say something like “let’s go lime” to mean “let’s chill or hangout.
For more on liming, read this article. This recipe is so versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as an appetizer. I did eat eggplant for all three meals and am continuing to do so, because this year I had a bumper crop of tomatoes and eggplant from my first garden (pictured above). I will also be eating plenty of sauteed eggplant and shrimp as in this recipe.
Roasted Eggplant (Baigan Choka-Guyanese Style
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic, halved
- 1 medium tomatoes (cut into 6 segments)
- 1 small onion quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 wiri wiri pepper or 1/8 scotch bonnet (optional)
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 425 degrees
- Step 2 Make two lengthwise slits in eggplant. Insert garlic, tomato and onions into slits
- Step 3 Wrap in foil, place on baking sheet, and bake until eggplant is soft, about 40 minutes.
- Step 4 Carefully unwrap eggplant. Peel back skin and scoop out the soft somewhat stringy pulp, the onions, tomatoes, and garlic and place in a bowl. Discard skin.
- Step 5 Add cumin, salt and pepper, oil and mash together until well blended. Add chopped wiri wiri or hot peppers and mix.
- Step 6 Serve hot with Sada roti or rice.