We love aubergines and this Bengena pura pitika l Roasted and smoked aubergine mash is one of our favourite ways of enjoying this vegetable. Smoking the soft aubergine flesh gives it the most delightful flavour.
Pura l Pitika-
‘Pura’ (smoked) and ‘Pitika’ (mash) are two very popular food groups in Assamese ( from Assam, a state in the North East of India) cuisine. The ‘pura’ food is usually over naked flames, either over a log fire or over the stovetop. Most of the pura and pitika are with various vegetables and leafy greens, though non vegetarian options are available too. Sometimes, the pura and pitika go hand in hand; the ingredient is first smoked and then mashed. Salt and mustard oil are the two compulsory ingredients in any Assamese style mash, the latter adding a pungency to the dish. Other ingredients like onion, green chillies and fresh coriander are also used.
Bengena pura pitika-
Bengena pura pitika l Roasted and smoked aubergine mash is one of the most common and popular all time favourite in most Assamese households. Growing up, I too have stood in the kitchen near the stovetop, grilling the aubergine on it. There is no doubt that the grilling over the cooker did lend a beautiful flavour to the aubergine flesh. However, it needed constant attention as it needed to be turned over frequently. Moreover, as the skin of the aubergine burnt, it did make quite a mess. Also, if you wanted to roast more than one, one could be stuck near the stovetop for quite some time.
Traditionally, the aubergine would be roasted over the open flame. In most town and city homes, this meant the stovetop. I was then peeled and mashed with salt, oil and spices. Coking the aubergine imparted a wonderful flavour to it.
How I do it-
Ever since we came to the UK, whenever we wanted to have some bengena pura pitika, I would do so in a two step method. Firstly, I bake the aubergines; then I smoke it to impart the flavour and then mash with the rest of the ingredients. This may sound time consuming, but it’s not really. While the aubergine bakes in the oven, you could get the rest of your meal started on the stovetop.
If the aubergine is cooked over the naked flames, it already has the lovely smoky flavour incorporated into it. When he aubergines are baked and mashed, it will still taste good, but is highly recommended in order to bring in the flavour of the former.
Once the aubergine is roasted, just scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add a smaller bowl in the centre of the aubergine flesh. After that, add a small piece of hot charcoal, pour a little mustard oil; when it starts to smoke, cover and keep aside for a few minutes. The roasted and smoked aubergine is now ready to be mixed with other ingredients and served. The video will make this clearer.
This is traditionally served with boiled rice, dal and some other side dishes. We relished ours with some boiled rice, vegetable mung dal, aloo pitika (Assamese style mashed potato balls ), pickle, papad (poppadoms), fresh lemon and chilli.
Continue reading for the full recipe and video for the Bengena pura pitika l Roasted and smoked aubergine mash.
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Bengena pura pitika l Roasted and smoked aubergine mash
- 2 aubergines, cut in half lengthwise
- 3-4 tbsp mustard oil + 1tbsp to smoke +1tbsp to mash
- 2-3 tbsp finely chopped onions
- 1 or 2 thinly chopped green chillies
- a small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- salt to taste
- Pre heat the oven at 220 deg C and line a baking tray with parchment.
- Make vertical cuts on both sides of the aubergine halves and place on the lined baking tray.
- Add salt to taste and the 3-4 tbsp of mustard oil over the aubergine halves and rub well all over them on both their sides.
- Arrange the aubergine halves cut side up and place the tray in the oven for 22-24 minutes or till the flesh is soft.
- Scoop the flesh with a spoon and place in a bowl.
- Make a well in the centre of the bowl and place a small bowl.
- Heat a small piece of charcoal and place in the small bowl.
- Spoon the tbsp of mustard oil over the piece of charcoal. It will start to smoke.
- Immediately cover with a lid to trap he smoke inside the bowl and keep aside for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and take out the small bowl with the piece of charcoal.
- Add the onion, coriander, green chillies and 1 tbsp of mustard oil to the aubergine flesh. Check the salt, add more if needed.
- Mash everything together and serve.
- This is traditionally served with boiled rice, dal and some other side dishes. We had ours with some boiled rice, vegetable mung dal, aloo pitika (Assamese style mashed potato balls ), pickle, papor (poppadoms), fresh lemon and chilli.
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Until next time,