Begun bhaja – Spiced Pan toasted eggplants, my version of a traditional Bengali recipe


This quick recipe serves as a tasty accompaniment to your lunch or dinner. The best suited are the oblong fat brinjals that one uses for begun pora or bharta, or thick long purple variety. I prefer the latter. The recipe I use is my version of a traditional deep-fried, Bengali dish. I know mine is different but this is how I like it.

How to choose eggplants?
Since these are just sliced eggplants spiced lightly, it is best to use those with few seeds. But then, how do you decide whether the one you take has less seeds? That is easy and practical. The eggplant that weighs light but looks large contains also less seeds. Hold the eggplant in your palm and try to use your judgment to decide whether it is light enough. You could probably try handling two eggplants of the same size on each palm. That should make it easier in the beginning.

Recipe: Begun bhaja ~ Spiced Pan toasted eggplants – my version

Serves: 3 persons


3 Eggplants, if using thick oblong variety
1 if using the fat big variety
3 tsp. red chilli powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Juice from 1/2 a lemon


Wash and pat dry eggplants. Cut into thick round slices about half a centimetre in thickness.

Mix the spices together with the salt well. Rub the spices over the sliced eggplants on both sides. What I do is rub very little oil into the spices and spread on a wide plate. I pat the eggplants lightly on both sides over the spice mixture and set them aside stacking them up in another plate.

Let them sweat for five minutes.

Heat a griddle and brush oil. Lay the slices the eggplants all over and toast both the sides till crispy, pouring a drop of oil on each when you turn them. See that the spices do not burn.

You must ideally fry them but I could not bring myself to do that. These are great for me.

Serve with rice and dal or just flatbreads. Eat them up as they are. They taste good while hot.

I am told the traditional recipe does not have chilli powder but the first time I tasted begun bhaja it did have chilli powder and I felt it tasted good, spiced. You know I cook in the present but each dish has a past. I could not bear to change the flavour or taste of the food that came with a memory attached.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Varsha

    This looks yummy , there’s a maharashtrian version of this dish too ,which is a little elaborated but tastes good.

    • Harini

      Do you mean the one that is patted on rava and roasted?

  • Amelia PS

    these look amazing and tantalizing!!!

  • Sunshinemom

    Thanks, Vanamala, Mishmash and Jayashree:). Always a pleasure to hear from you people!

  • Jayashree

    A very well written intro….makes me want to try out all those that you have talked about in the beginning.

  • Mishmash !

    hey…came here after a really really long time and I was smitten by ur content -both writing and those fabulous photos…..there's something nice and captivating about the way u write….loved it :)equally loved ur styling and clickin too 🙂

  • Vanamala Hebbar

    This is awesome…

  • Sunshinemom

    Kalyan, thanks again! I am actually motivated everytime I read comments that say that the pictures are good:). And please go to one of my early posts and you will see some horrible pictures as well! I love masoor dal and though I am a Tambrahm I absolutely love mustard oil esp. for masoor dal, tuvar dal, and for North Indian subzis!

  • The knife

    At the risk of repeating myself. Fantaaaastic photos. I think I will stop putting photos up myself after this 🙁

    Befun bhaja has to be had with bhaat and mushuri or moog daal with a twist of lime and a green chilli

    Go ahead and add your twist. You have to feel happy. I, for example, never use the Bengali mother lode of mustard oil.

  • Sunshinemom

    Soma, did not mean the bhaja to turn into 'bheja fry'! And anyway the chilli powder makes it good while toasting makes it healthy if not genuine.

    Priya, Priyanka and Vidhya tried it too. Tell me whether you like the little twist.

  • Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal

    That is one delicious thali you got there. I love begun bhaja. I remember eating it at mt Bong friends' places. Will surely give it a try 🙂

  • Soma

    Begun Bhaja is straight from Bengal unless the Gujarati word for fried is Bhaja and brinjal is Begun:-)

    well this is a nice twist too and we have begun bhaja with khichuri as well.

    I make a simple baingan subzi just like u did, except I cut it in smaller pieces.

    Soma –

  • Kalyani

    Looks awesome & deliicous …..

  • Sunshinemom

    Thanks people!

    Jaya, that is done with potatoes too, isn't it? I like that too. In fact I tasted cutlets dredged in semolina for the first time only in Mumbai!

    Deesha, thanks! That is some compliment:). But I do think your pictures are so nice!

    Sundeepa, Ha ha! I know the oil thing. My neighbour, Sabita Aunty used to do that and she would serve it with boiled potatoes sprinkled with a little salt. Tastes so good! I don't understand why my kids haven't developed a taste for such things. Maybe they should grow up a little.

  • Deepa G Joshi

    wow, these looks so good..not a real fan of brinjal but love these..

  • Bong Mom

    Thanks SM. Your explanation is perfect. Twists are perfectly ok, I myself do it every time.

    I might try the chili powder acually 😀 And you know the mustard oil in which we fry the baingan, we will mix that a little with rice and green chili…and it tastes oh so good 😀

  • Khaugiri

    Hey I luv this. We call it 'Vangyache Kaap' in Marathi.


    I too somehow can't get myself to deep fry .. these look very good. I made begun bhaja once & it tasted great but it sadly didn't look as great as yours (thatz why its not on my blog as yet)

  • swapna

    Looks awasome… and Delicious!!

  • Satya

    wow bgun bhaa looks super tempting …love the platter served with khichidi …yummy …my favorite combo ..


  • sinfullyspicy

    You have a lovely Blog SM!
    The bhaja looks yummy . I also use some chilli & amchoor after frying to make it tangy!.However not on the ones served to my Bengali husband!

  • Jaya Wagle

    You know, speaking of variations, us Maharashtrians and Konkanis dredge the eggplant circles in rava and call it vangyache kaaf. And I can relate to friends and colleagues hooking you on to different cuisines and veggies. In my case it was baingan bharta and methi sabzi.

  • Sunshinemom

    Sundeepa, I have mentioned for that very reason that my Bengali friends do not add chilli powder and deep fry, and I included your link as well as Sharmila/s. And I know what you mean! I have had times like this when people actually tell how rasam or thogayal should taste and even suggest adding jaggery in both! It is irritating when they don't accept that they have made a twist which is alright as long as it is not claimed to be a genuine recipe. I have now included a clarification too:). Glad you liked my bhajas as well!

  • Bong Mom

    Thanks SM for the link

    Begun Bhaja is an originally Bengali dish, the name itself says that. Every one from all over India has their own version of this classic fry and I have seen ones loaded with amchoor and such too. They are sadly not exotic, it is the actual simple begun bhaja fried in mustard oil with turmeric powder and salt which is exotic.

    I mean isn't the basic rasam the best, I could load it up with spices and drizzle with Mustard Oil and have a Bong version of Rasam. But that wouldn't beat the original simple taste.

    I like your Bhajas though 🙂

  • ?peachkins?

    This looks really good..

    The Peach Kitchen
    peach and things
    blowing peachkisses

  • notyet100

    i was looking for sidesish for todays dinner 🙂 and now i knw wht to prepare,..:-)

  • Priti

    Looks awesome …and yummy platter …gr8 pics

  • jayasree

    'The past' that each of you dish has makes the post more interesting and engaging too.

    Roasted eggplants looks delicious.

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