Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dip (Baigan Choka/Bharta)

5 from 4 votes
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This Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dip is inspired by Trini-Indian Baigan Choka & Indian Baigan Bharta dishes – combining roasted eggplant with tomatoes, garlic, onion, and a Scotch Bonnet pepper for a flavorful mashed eggplant dip!

A bowl with Caribbean eggplant dip topped with three cherry tomatoes and cilantro

It’s no secret that I have an ever so slight obsession with all things eggplant, especially when it comes to dips. I’ve already shared recipes for Baba Ganoush and Moutabal, and now it’s the turn of this spicy roasted eggplant dip (aka baigan choka (Trini)/baigan bharta (Indi)).

This chili eggplant dip recipe is inspired by the spicy Trini-Indian eggplant dip called ‘Baigan Choka’ and similar to Indian-style ‘Baigan Bharta’ but with a bit of a twist. The dish’s traditional version roasts the eggplant over a naked flame for a deep, smoky flavor.

However, in this recipe, I use an oven-roasted eggplant version below (with a flame version added as a bonus, of course!). I also often blend the spicy eggplant mixture into a smooth dip, rather than hand-mashing, depending on what I’m in the mood for. 

Baked eggplant stuffed with tomatoes and garlic

The result is a mashed eggplant dish that can be served as a side, dip, or eggplant spread and is spicy, flavorful, and delicious! 

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What Is Baigan Choka?

Baigan Choka (baigan being eggplant) is a roasted, mashed eggplant dish popular in Trinidad and Tobago with Indian roots, likely from migrant Indian workers.

Choka is a way of preparing food that includes roasting ingredients over an open flame for a smoky flavor and then mashing them. In this recipe, I’ve adapted it to be winter-friendly (or rather ALL kitchen friendly for those without a grill/open-flame option) with an oven-roasted method (no flame needed). 

In Trinidad-style Baigan Choka, the eggplant is also roasted with garlic (and other ingredients) nestled inside slits made into the eggplant to infuse it as it cooks. This Caribbean eggplant dish is also combined with Scotch Bonnet pepper for a very spicy twist.

Close up of a spoonful with Caribbean eggplant dip

Baigan Choka vs Baigan Bharta

There is a similar dish in India called baigan bharta (or baingan bharta), which is very similar and combines charcoal/fire-cooked eggplant minced with cooked tomato, onion, garlic, chili, cumin, cilantro, and mustard oil.

As far as I can tell from my research, the Indian version is also more likely to include the ‘chunkaying’/’chongkaying’ step of pouring hot oil (usually mustard oil) over the eggplant mixture and combining, just before serving – though I have seen a few baigan choka recipes use other oil or even butter. 

My recipe is inspired by both versions and combines roasted eggplant with tomatoes, onion, chili, and a scotch bonnet pepper for a flavorful, spicy eggplant dip or spread.

If there are more differences between choka vs. bharta, maybe someone can let me know in the comments? I’d love to learn more. 

How To Choose Eggplant

The main ingredient of Baigan choka is eggplant. So it’s a good idea to choose the best one that you can.

An eggplant on a chopping board

This means choosing one that is dark purple, glossy, and firm to the touch. Look for a green stem, which can indicate ripeness (eggplants tend to become bitter as they age, so the fresher, the better).

If you want one with fewer seeds, you may prefer to use multiple smaller eggplants compared to the one extra-large eggplant I use, as I’ve heard that smaller ones can be less bitter and are likely to have fewer seeds. 

Choosing a ‘male’ eggplant also usually means fewer seeds. To check for a male vs. female eggplant, look at the scar at the bottom of the eggplant (if there is one). If it is rounded, then it’s male; if it’s more like a ‘dash’ shape (a bit more elongated), it’s female.

The Ingredients

Ingredients for a roasted eggplant dip
  • Eggplant: I used one extra-large eggplant; you could use 2 smaller ones instead if that’s all you can find. 
  • Cherry tomatoes: you could also use 1-2 larger tomatoes. 
  • Chilies: I used a combination of regular Red Chili & Scotch Bonnet for a super spicy eggplant recipe. Check out the FAQs below for milder alternatives. 
  • Small onions & garlic: or scallions instead of the small onions. Use fresh garlic cloves. 
  • Olive oil: or another neutral cooking oil. 
  • Herbs: I used parsley & thyme. Alternatively, you could use fresh cilantro. 
  • Salt & pepper.

How To Roast Eggplant For Baignan Choka/Bharta

In The Oven

Step 1: Prepare the ingredients

First, peel the onion and garlic and slice the chili peppers into two or four pieces. If you’re using cherry tomatoes, you can keep them whole; otherwise, cut larger tomatoes into wedges.

Chopped ingredients for eggplant dip

Then, wash and dry the eggplant. Next, you’ll need to create 4 slits in the eggplant (evenly apart, so there is one on every side of the eggplant), lengthwise along the entire eggplant. This will create ‘pockets’ in the eggplant (refer to the images below).

Stuff the pockets with some of the garlic, onion, tomatoes, and herbs. This will help the flavors to infuse while they cook. Then drizzle the whole eggplant with a little olive oil.

Steps for stuffing an eggplant

Step 2: Roast the eggplant

Roast the stuffed eggplant in a preheated oven for around 20 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC.

Optionally, turn on the broiler at the end and broil it for a little while longer to add some charred flavor to the ingredients.

Steps for roasting eggplant

Step 3: Remove the skin

Once baked, remove the eggplant from the oven and allow it to cool down enough to handle. You can then remove the skin from the eggplant.

I find it easiest to peel the skin. However, you can ‘scoop’ out the flesh with a spoon if preferred.

Steps for peeling a roasted eggplant

Step 4: Mash The Spicy Eggplant Mixture

Finally, add all of the ingredients to a food processor, add salt & pepper and blend into the desired consistency (this can be fairly chunky or super smooth).

Alternatively, you can hand-mash the spicy eggplant mixture using a potato masher or even pestle & mortar.

Steps for blending eggplant dip

With A Flame

Traditionally, baigan choka is roasted over an open-flame, which imparts a delicious smoky flavor. If this is something you want to try, you can use a similar method to this Moutabal eggplant dip.

Roast the eggplant over the open flame of your gas-cooker for about 5 minutes on each side until the skin is blistered and it’s limp/soft and is easily pierced with a skewer or knife.

Eggplant cooking over open flame

It’s a good idea to use a heatproof ‘rack’ over the flame so that the eggplant cooks evenly. 

I find this is more of a hassle due to the nestled ingredients within the eggplant ‘pockets’. So, if doing the above, it’s a good idea to place tin foil on your stovetop base for easier clean up (as juices will run).

You can alternatively separately blister the tomatoes and pepper and then chop and saute the onion, tomatoes, and chilies until softened. Once all ingredients are ready, combine and mash.

How To Serve

This baigan choka is traditionally served alongside fried bread or other flatbreads like roti or paratha. You can also serve it with rice (like this brown rice) or other grains (like quinoa), or even a dhal.

I like to eat it as a roasted eggplant dip with crackers (like these seed crackers, or naturally colored crackers), pita chips, or even within a tortilla cup – as I have here.

You can also use it as an eggplant spread to up the flavor in recipes. For example, within sandwiches or pita, burgers, wraps, or tortillas using this tortilla hack, etc.

A bowl with Caribbean eggplant dip

FAQs

How to store Baigan Choka?

Fridge: allow the roasted eggplant dip to cool and then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for between 2-3 days.

Freezer: allow it to cool and transfer to a freezer-safe container. It can then be stored for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Can you reheat the roasted eggplant dip?

Yes. You can reheat the roasted eggplant dip on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm through. 

A bowl with Caribbean eggplant dip topped with three cherry tomatoes and cilantro

Can I substitute the Scotch Bonnet Pepper?

Yes, of course. Scotch bonnet peppers are INCREDIBLY hot. In fact, they contain between 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units in some cases double that of Thai chilies and more than 12 x that of Jalapeños (at 2500-8000).

With that in mind, if you aren’t a massive fan of heat, then you can easily adapt this recipe to suit your needs. Here’s a handy chart of alternatives and their heat levels.

Mild

  • Bell Pepper: 0 (no heat)
  • Anaheim: 500- 2500

Medium

  • Poblano pepper: 1000-1500
  • Red Jalapeños: 2500-8000

Hot

  • Serrano Pepper: 10,000- 23,000
  • Cayenne Pepper: 30,000-50,000

Very Hot

  • Thai Chili: 50,000-100,000
  • Habanero: 100,000- 350,000

EXTREMELY Hot

  • Ghost Pepper: 855,000-1,041,427
  • Trinidad Scorpion: 1,200,000- 2,000,000

There are more options, of course, but this is a guideline.

Other Recipe Notes

  • Adapt this to your preferred heat level: I know Scotch Bonnet definitely will be too spicy for many, so feel free to adjust this spicy eggplant to your preferred level, so it’s enjoyable for you. 
  • Be careful when preparing chilies: be careful not to touch your face, especially your mouth and eyes. If possible, wear gloves.
  • The onion: some traditional versions of this dish use raw onion or lightly saute it. I roast mine – feel free to add it raw if preferred. 
  • Feel free to omit the tomatoes: this spicy eggplant recipe works really well with and without tomatoes. 
  • To add the ‘chunkaying’/’chongkaying’ step: heat 2-3 Tbsp oil (olive oil or mustard oil work well, though you could also use ghee or even butter for alternative options) until it’s scalding, and then pour this directly over the mashed spicy eggplant mixture and mix well. 
  • Feel free to experiment with spices: for example, Punjabi versions of this roasted eggplant dip often include cumin and garam masala

If you try this spicy roasted eggplant dip (baigan choka) recipe, then let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe rating and would love to see your recreations – just tag @AlphaFoodie.

Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dip (Baigan Choka/ Bharta)

5 from 4 votes
By: Samira
This Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dip is a combination of Trini-Indian Baigan Choka & Baigan Bharta dishes – combining roasted eggplant with onion, tomatoes, chili, and a scotch bonnet pepper for a flavorful mashed eggplant dip.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper omit if preferred or use another pepper variety
  • 1 small onion or scallion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 1/2 handful thyme
  • 6-9 cherry tomatoes or larger tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions 

In the oven

    Step 1: Prepare the ingredients

    • Peel the onion and garlic and slice the chili peppers into two or four pieces. If you're using cherry tomatoes, you can keep them whole; otherwise, cut larger tomatoes into wedges.
    • Wash and dry the eggplant. Next, you'll need to create 4 slits in the eggplant (evenly apart, so there is one on every side of the eggplant), lengthwise along the entire eggplant. This will create 'pockets' in the eggplant (refer to the images above).
    • Stuff the pockets with some of the garlic, onion, tomatoes, and herbs. This will help the flavors to infuse while they cook. Then drizzle the whole eggplant with a little olive oil.

    Step 2: Roast the eggplant

    • Roast the stuffed eggplant in a preheated oven for around 20 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC.
      Optionally, turn on the broiler at the end and broil it for a little while longer to add some charred flavor to the ingredients.

    Step 3: Remove the skin

    • Once baked, remove the eggplant from the oven and allow it to cool down enough to handle. You can remove the skin from the eggplant.
      I find it easiest to peel the skin. However, you can 'scoop' out the flesh with a spoon if preferred.

    Step 4: Mash The Spicy Eggplant Mixture

    • Add all of the ingredients to a food processor, add salt & pepper and blend into the desired consistency (this can be fairly chunky or super smooth).
      Alternatively, you can hand-mash the spicy eggplant mixture using a potato masher or even pestle & mortar.

    With a flame

    • Roast the eggplant over the open flame of your gas-cooker for about 5 minutes on each side until the skin is blistered and it's limp/soft and easily pierces with a skewer or knife.
      It's a good idea to use a heatproof 'rack' over the flame so that the eggplant cooks evenly.
      I find this more hassle due to the nestled ingredients within the eggplant 'pockets'. So, if doing the above, it's a good idea to place tin foil on your stovetop base for easier clean up (as juices will run).
      You can alternatively separately blister the tomatoes and pepper and then chop and saute the onion, tomatoes, and chilies until softened. Once all ingredients are ready, combine and mash.

    Video

    Notes

    How To Store Baigan Choka?
    • Fridge: Allow the roasted eggplant dip to cool and then store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for between 2-3 days.
    • Freezer: Allow it to cool and transfer to a freezer-safe container. It can then be stored for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
    • To Reheat: Reheat the roasted eggplant dip on the stovetop or in the microwave until warm through. 

    • Adapt this to your preferred heat level: I know Scotch Bonnet definitely will be too spicy for many, so feel free to adjust this spicy eggplant to your preferred level, so it’s enjoyable for you. 
    • Be careful when preparing chilies: be careful not to touch your face, especially your mouth and eyes. If possible, wear gloves.
    • The Onion: Some traditional versions of this dish use raw onion or lightly saute it. I roast mine – feel free to add it raw if preferred. 
    • Feel free to omit the tomatoes: This spicy eggplant recipe works really well with and without tomatoes. 
    • To add the ‘chunkaying’/’chongkaying’ step: Heat 2-3 tbsp oil (olive oil or mustard oil work well- though you could also use ghee or even butter for alternative options) until it’s scalding, and then pour this directly over the mashed spicy eggplant mixture and mix well. 
    • Feel free to experiment with spices: For example, Punjabi versions of this roasted eggplant dip often include cumin and garam masala. 
    Read the blog post above for more FAQs – including how to substitute the scotch bonnet and more!
    Course: Appetizer, Side
    Cuisine: Caribbean, Indian, Trinidad
    Freezer friendly: 3 Months
    Shelf life: 2-3 Days

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1portion, Calories: 83kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 300mg, Potassium: 415mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 293IU, Vitamin C: 31mg, Calcium: 29mg, Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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    4 Comments

    1. Gormit Kaur says:

      5 stars
      I am a Punjabi born in Singapore. My mum was from Amritsar. Your recipe is fairly similar to what my mum used to do. But we always add ‘Anar dhana’ into it as well to give a slight tart taste. (Dried pomegranate seeds – they look almost black – sometimes available as a powder). We used them in a lot of our dishes – like pakode (fried chickpea vegetable fritters). It is a must have in our kitchen. Or can use amchur (powder from dried unripe mangoes).

      1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

        Thank you so much for your comment! Pomegranate in all its forms is a staple in my kitchen as well. The mango powder sounds amazing – I will check it out 🙂

    2. Riswan says:

      5 stars
      Amazing!I would like to try it.It looks delicious!
      (SC Grocers)

      1. Samira @ Alphafoodie says:

        Awww Hi Riswan, so nice to see you here, thank you so much! I hope everything is going very well. Hope you are your family are all very well x