Begun Bhorta (Smoky Eggplant Mash)


Eggplant Bhorta
Photo: Haarala Hamilton • Food Styling: Valerie Berry • Prop Styling: Rachel Vere

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In her new cookbook Made in Bangladesh, Dina Begum calls bhorta “the quintessential soul food of Bangladeshi cuisine.” The canon of bhortas is vast, and includes hundreds of varieties enjoyed everywhere from rural dinner tables to the country’s finest restaurants. This recipe for begun bhorta, adapted from Begum’s book, is a delicious study in the contrasting textures and flavors of Bangladeshi cuisine. Silky eggplant, pungent mustard oil, sharp red onion, and crispy fried chiles and garlic play off each other beautifully, and can be enjoyed on its own with rice or as part of a larger bhorta-based feast.

A note on ingredients: The chiles used in bhortas are typically dried red Indian chiles, fresh green chiles (sometimes called Thai or finger chiles), or a combination of the two. (Use gloves to protect your hands when mixing chiles into bhortas.) Mustard oil is an important element of many Bangladeshi and Indian recipes, and can be found online. (If unavailable, Begum recommends combining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon English mustard.)

Excerpted with permission from Made in Bangladesh by Dina Begum, published by ‎Hardie Grant Publishing, November 2023.

Featured in: “If You’ve Never Cooked Bangladeshi Food, Now’s Your Moment,” by Jessica Carbone.

Yield: 4
Time: 25 minutes
  • Fine salt
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 lb.), trimmed and sliced into 1 in.-thick rounds
  • 3 Tbsp. mustard oil (see headnote), plus more for frying if needed
  • 3 dried red Indian chiles, such as Kashmiri
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small green Thai chile, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped cilantro


  1. In a colander, salt the eggplant all over and set aside to draw out excess moisture, 20 minutes.
  2. Place a large bowl by the stove. To a large skillet set over medium heat, add the mustard oil. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the dried chiles and garlic and fry until fragrant and golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl.
  3. Using paper towels, wipe any excess salt from the eggplant and blot dry.  Working in batches if necessary, add to the skillet, cover, and cook, turning once, until golden brown and very soft, about 6 minutes total. (If the pan looks dry, add more mustard oil 1 tablespoon at a time.) Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  4. To the bowl with the chiles and garlic, add the onion and (if using) green chile and toss to combine. 
  5. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplant slices and add the flesh to the bowl. Using a spoon or your hands, mix well, then add the cilantro and mix again. Season to taste with more salt, then serve.

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