Trader Joe’s has decided to relaunch their Baingan Bharta, boldly venturing back into the world of Indian cuisine with the confidence of a yoga instructor at a wellness retreat. This isn’t just a dish; it’s a culinary comeback story, ready to tantalize the taste buds of unsuspecting shoppers who thought they were just popping in for some Two Buck Chuck and Everything But The Bagel Seasoning. The brave little tub of Baingan Bharta sits there in the freezer aisle, daring you to try and pronounce it correctly while you ponder whether it will live up to your high expectations or end up as another ‘exotic’ experiment gone wrong. Will it be a triumphant return to form for Trader Joe’s adventurous frozen food section, or just another footnote in the long list of grocery store attempts at ethnic cuisine? Let’s dive in and see if this relaunched dish can dance its way into our hearts and shopping carts.
Trader Joe’s has a long tradition of having a wide variety of ethnic Indian foods, mostly in the freezer section. I have long appreciated them even though I don’t know all that much about Indian food much less the finer details on preparation and ingredients. I do work with a lot of Indians (I am in the software business) and many of them love Trader Joe’s foods but they will mostly tell you that their mother or wife makes a much better version of it at home (or if they are a woman that they make a better version). All I know is that I like almost all the Indian food I eat!
What is Baingan Bharta?
Baingan Bharta is a richly flavored, traditional Indian dish that’s both rustic and bursting with complex flavors. At its heart is the baingan, or eggplant, which is first roasted to perfection, infusing it with a smoky undertone. This key process imparts a distinct charred flavor that’s integral to the dish. Once roasted, the eggplant is peeled and mashed, transforming it into a creamy base. The velvety eggplant is then skillfully married with a medley of aromatic spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala, creating a symphony of warm, earthy notes. Alongside these spices, sautéed onions, ripe tomatoes, and sometimes garlic and ginger, are added, contributing layers of sweetness, tanginess, and a subtle kick. The result is a harmonious blend of smoky, spicy, and savory flavors, often finished with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a drizzle of bright, lemon juice for added zest. Baingan Bharta is not just a dish; it’s a comforting culinary experience, often enjoyed with flatbreads like naan or roti, making it a soulful and satisfying meal. Its ability to be both hearty and flavorful while remaining vegetarian makes it a cherished recipe in Indian cuisine and a delightful discovery for food enthusiasts around the world.
This is very simple to make just cut some holes in the plastic film on the top and nuke it for 3 minutes, pull it out and stir it and heat it for another minute. I would only do the regular oven if you don’t have access to a microwave. Mine came out of the microwave piping hot. Almost too hot… I served mine over some Trader Joe’s Basmati rice. The smells coming out of the microwave were wonderful!
My Final Thoughts
Like I said, I don’t know much about Bharta but I know what I like. This dish smells amazing and I couldn’t wait to take a bit. The heat level is pretty slow in coming on but it does have a nice strong kick to it that lingers. You can see that it’s pretty cooked down and mashed up. You don’t see a lot of chunks of eggplant. I didn’t take pictures of it on rice but when I put it on rice, there is a lot of sauce that soaks into the rice. The spice melange plays well with the eggplant and I broke a little sweat eating it so be careful if you don’t like spicy foods. I wouldn’t call this a whole meal, even over rice. There just isn’t that much to it. This whole container clocks in at 2 grams of protein and 310 calories so unless you are super skinny, this won’t be a whole meal. I would plop a glop of whole milk yogurt on it to balance out the heat and spice and add some protein. You can also eat this with Trader Joe’s garlic Naan and you will have a full Punjabi experience!
At the end of the day, I really liked it. I am going to award it 8 out of 10 Bells!
ONIONS, MASHED EGGPLANT (EGGPLANT, SALT), WATER, CANOLA OIL, TOMATO PUREE (WATER, TOMATOES, CITRIC ACID [ACIDIFIER]), SPICES, DICED TOMATOES (TOMATOES, TOMATO JUICE, SALT, CALCIUM CHLORIDE, CITRIC ACID [ACIDIFIER]), GARLIC, HEAVY CREAM, GREEN CHILI PEPPER, SALT, CILANTRO, FENUGREEK LEAVES, TURMERIC.
- CONTAINS MILK.