Begun Bhaja, also known as Baingan Bhaja, are crispy and tender eggplant fries that are delicious to enjoy as a snack, side or appetizer. Thin slices of aubergines are dusted with seasonings and rice flour, then pan fried in mustard oil and served as a side with dal rice or khichdi or roti. Here you’ll find step-by-step instructions with photos to make this classic Bengali style Begun Bhaja recipe.
About Begun Bhaja
The Bengali word “Begun” or the Hindi word “Baingan” means eggplant or brinjals or aubergines. In Bengali language the word “Bhaja” means fries.
I simply adore eggplants. Stir fried, roasted, mashed…Any way they are prepared I am sure to love them! With a terrifically toothsome exterior and lightly flavored flesh, they are a very versatile ingredient that pairs well with nearly any dish.
Today I’m sharing with you my mom’s recipe for the popular Bengali style Begun Bhaja. These are fried eggplants, or eggplant fries, made by coating aubergine slices with vibrant Indian spices and rice flour, then shallow frying in mustard oil on the stovetop to crispy perfection. There is nothing complicated here: just wholesome ingredients kept simple so that the great flavors and textures really shine.
Generally the traditional version is made by simply frying the eggplant slices coated with ground spices. But in my recipe I dredge the eggplant with some rice flour. This helps to give some crispy taste to the fries.
The spiced eggplant slices can also be baked or air-fried. I have listed the baking and air-frying details in the ‘faqs section’ and in the recipe card below.
Baingan Bhaja is easy to make in under 30 minutes, and are great to enjoy for a hearty snack or casual lunch.
Try this recipe as a gluten-free and vegan-friendly dish whenever you need some (fried :)) veggies on the plate as a side dish!
How to make Begun Bhaja
Prep and Marinate Baingan (Eggplant)
To make the Begun Bhaja you need the large variety of eggplant similar to the one which we use for Baingan Bharta or Baba Ganoush. The larger varieties of brinjal have less seeds and more flesh.
1. Rinse 1 large eggplant (350 to 375 grams or 1.5 to 2 cups when sliced) and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Slice them into 0.5 cm (¼ inch) width rounds.
Optional step: To get rid of bitterness of the eggplant, place them in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps to remove the bitter juices if any from them. Pat the eggplant slices dry with a clean kitchen towel.
2. Then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder, ½ teaspoon sugar and salt to taste.
To add some tangy taste and more flavor, you can add about ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder and 1 teaspoon of dry mango powder (amchur powder).
3. Mix and rub the spices and salt on the slices evenly.
4. Set aside and let the eggplant slices marinate for 5 to 7 minutes while you gather the remaining ingredients.
5. Now add 5 to 6 tablespoons rice flour to a plate. If you prefer you can skip coating the slices with rice flour. But omitting rice flour will make them less crispy and they will absorb more oil.
You can also use besan (gram flour) or chickpea flour or semolina (sooji) or all-purpose flour for dredging.
6. Take each slice and place it on the rice flour.
7. Coat the slices evenly by turning all around the flour. Dust off the remaining rice flour by gently tapping the slices.
Make Baingan Bhaja
8. In a shallow frying pan or skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of mustard oil or preferred neutral-flavored oil.
Place the brinjal slices in the hot oil. You want to be sure that the pan isn’t too crowded or they won’t fry properly. So you might need to work in batches depending on the size of your pan.
9. When one side is crisp and golden, turn over each slice.
10. Fry the second side until golden. You can flip back and forth a couple of times for even cooking.
A way to check if the eggplant is cooked is by piercing it with a knife. If the eggplant has become tender and softened, the knife will pass through it easily without any resistance.
11. Place the fried brinjal slices on kitchen paper towels so that the extra oil is absorbed. Fry the remaining dredged eggplant slices in batches.
Add 2 to 3 tablespoons mustard oil or as required later while frying the remaining batches.
12. Serve Begun Bhaja immediately while hot and crispy. You can have them as a side vegetable fried dish with a comforting meal of dal and steamed rice or khichdi with some yogurt or with roti or bread.
Absolutely, feel free to use your preferred flour to dredge the eggplant. Try chickpea flour, gram flour (besan). You can use all-purpose flour or semolina (rava or suji) as well if you aren’t concerned with this being a gluten-free snack.
While I use mustard oil to make Begun Bhaja, if this is not available to you simply swap for sunflower oil or other high smoke point neutral-tasting oil.
Enjoy as a snack with plain yogurt, a green chutney, or your favorite sauces. Add a basket of naan or roti for a hearty appetizer.
As a side dish they are delicious to pair with dal, rice, or just about any Indian meal!
You can even use freshly fried Baingan Bhaja to make sandwiches. Load slices of bread with the eggplant, lettuce, slices of onion, and any sauce you like for a filling lunch.
The Begun Bhaja definitely have the best taste and texture when enjoyed right after being fried. Leftovers can be stored in a container and eaten on the same day. But they will become soft and won’t taste crispy.
Yes, you can certainly use any method you like to cook the fried eggplant. Bake at 190 degrees Celsius (380 degrees Fahrenheit) on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 to 30 minutes, or until brown and crispy.
Air fry at 190 degrees Celsius (380 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplants are crisp and tender.
For both methods be sure to flip the slices halfway through cook time. Also brush the slices with some oil when they are half done.
If you made this recipe, please be sure to rate it in the recipe card below. Sign Up for my email newsletter or you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest or Twitter for more vegetarian inspirations.
Begun Bhaja | Baingan Bhaja
- 1 eggplant large – 350 to 375 grams, (baingan or aubergine)
- 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon sugar – optional
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder – optional
- 1 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur powder) – optional
- salt as required
- 5 to 6 tablespoons rice flour or gram flour (besan)
- 6 to 7 tablespoons mustard oil for pan frying, you can also use sunflower oil
- Rinse the eggplant (baingain) well in water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Now slice the eggplant in ¼ inch thick rounds.
- Optionally you can soak these slices in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the water, remove and pat dry all the slices with a kitchen towel.
Making Begun Bhaja
- Now sprinkle turmeric powder, kashmiri red chilli powder, salt and sugar on the eggplant slices. You can also use garam masala powder and dry mango powder if you prefer.
- Mix the ground spices, seasonings evenly all over the eggplant slices.
- Set aside to marinate the eggplant slices for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons mustard oil in a shallow frying pan or skillet. Take rice flour in a plate. Dredge and coat evenly each slice with rice flour. Dust off the extra rice flour.
- Gently place the dredged eggplant rounds in the medium hot mustard oil. Do not overcrowd the pan with the slices.
- Pan fry until crisp and golden brown on both sides on medium heat. Flip them a couple of times for even cooking.
- Once they becomes nicely crisp and golden then place the begun bhaja on paper towels so that the extra oil is absorbed.
- Serve baingan bhaja hot with yogurt or any yogurt dip and some bread or roti or with dal rice or khichdi. They can also be stuffed between bread slices and had as a snack.
- For best taste have them hot as soon as they are pan fried.
- Slice the brinjals into rounds that are neither too thin or too thick. The thicker slices will take more time to cook and there are chances that the center is not cooked fully. Thin slices will get browned fast.
- Brinjal slices absorbs oil while frying. So, it is always better to coat the slices with some flour. Here in this recipe I have used rice flour. It serves two fold benefit – firstly, the Brinjal slices does not absorb much oil and secondly, rice flour makes the coating crisp from outside. So from outside the Brinjal slices are crisp whereas from inside they are soft.
- You can also use chickpea flour or besan (gram flour). If you are not worried about being gluten-free then you can even dredge with all purpose flour or semolina (cream of wheat or sooji).
- Brinjal slices discolors quickly once it is chopped. Hence, you can put the chopped slices in a bowl of water or use it right away.
- Not all brinjal are bitter. Some of them can be very sweet. However, it is better to put the slices in salted water as one cannot come to know by its look or appearance if it is bitter or not. As a general rule, while buying bigger eggplants, the eggplant should be light with a firm skin.
- I have used mustard oil, but you can use any good vegetable oil for frying with a high smoking temperature.
- You can either shallow fry or deep fry the baingan.
- The recipe can be doubled or tripled.
- To bake or air fry – Bake the eggplant rounds at 190 degrees Celsius (380 degrees Fahrenheit) on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Air fry at 190 degrees Celsius (380 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplants are crisp and tender. For both methods be sure to flip the slices halfway through the cook time. Also brush the slices with some oil when they are half done.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Begun Bhaja post from the blog archives first published in August 2009 has been republished and updated on 2nd September 2021.