Bengali Eggplant Mash

Yield: 2 to 3 servings as a side dish

Cook Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

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Eggplant bhorta, or satni (বেগুন ভর্তা/চাটনি) as we call it in my Sylheti home, combines smoky eggplant with pungent mustard oil and the heat of fresh and dry chili peppers. The dish is very forgiving: as all Bengali mothers will tell you, it’s best to measure the ingredients with your heart!



2 Chinese eggplants
1 to 2 teaspoons mustard oil, to taste
1 small red onion
1 handful cilantro, plus more to garnish
1 to 2 Thai chili peppers, plus more to garnish
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 to 3 dried red chillies
Vegetable oil for light frying
Salt to taste



Flatbread of your choice, or warm white rice



You can substitute the white or sweet onion for the red onion, and use regular eggplant instead of Chinese.

For my mom’s potato version: Wash, peel, and boil 2 to 3 large potatoes. Omit the garlic and proceed with the rest as below. Mash the potatoes with your hands, but keep the texture chunky. Aloo satni goes well with white rice.



Mustard oil sold in the US is often labeled “for external use only,” but it is a common cooking ingredient across Asia. We recommend asking a friendly South Asian grocer for suggestions.


1. Wash and dry the eggplants and slice the stems off. Pierce the skin with a fork on all the sides, and rub with a capful of mustard oil.

2. Char each eggplant over a gas flame or grill, turning it until it cooks through.

Other options: Char the eggplant in a hot pan without oil. Once it’s blistered on all sides, add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan and cover with a lid to let it steam gently and cook through.

Or: Air fry the eggplant at 350°F for 30 minutes, then add 10-minute intervals until the skin chars and peels.

Or: Roast in the oven at 350°F for about 30 to 40 minutes until the skin chars and peels.

Once you’re sure the eggplant is cooked all the way through (it will soften and collapse), transfer to a medium-sized bowl.

3. Slice the onion from pole to pole into long, thin slices. (This produces a milder and sweeter flavor, since it ruptures fewer cells.)

Peel the garlic and cut into thin slices. Wash and dry a handful of cilantro and chop roughly.

Wash and dry the thai chili peppers, discard the stems, and slice very finely. Set aside.

4. Toast the dried chiles in a dry, hot pan until the skin blackens to your liking. Remove the stems, then crush them up with your fingers or grind finely using a mortar and pestle. Be prepared to cough! Set aside.

5. Scrape the skin off the eggplant with a fork. When cooked properly, it should peel off easily in long strips. (You can also choose to keep the skin on.)

6. Fry the onion in a bit of vegetable oil for a few minutes, until translucent. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, then add the garlic slices and fry until golden. Add the fried mixture to the bowl with the eggplant.

7. Add the chopped cilantro, sliced Thai peppers, and ground dried chili to the bowl with the eggplant.

Add a drop of mustard oil to your palm and mash everything by hand. Add more mustard oil and salt to taste (add mustard oil in small increments—a little bit goes a long way!)

8. Garnish with more chopped cilantro and whole fresh chili peppers. 

Enjoy with warm white rice or flatbread of your choice.


“Spicy and yummy!” our testers report. If you’re worried about heat, choose milder and fewer chilies.

Recipe by Anonna Ahmed

I always knew my mother was making satni from the coughs I heard coming from the kitchen, brought on by the dried chilies she was toasting on the stove. My six-year-old self would come racing over, pigtails flying, begging to mash the piping-hot vegetables by hand. The heat was a lot for my young hands, but I’d insist on helping anyway, eager to become an expert cook like my mom. Today, mashing warm eggplant with mustard-oil-coated hands instantly teleports me to the bustling kitchen of my childhood. 

Bhortas are simple, full of flavor, and a perfect complement to a lunch or dinner spread. Mustard oil is featured in many Bengali bhortas, as well as other dishes like jhal muri and beef tehari: with its high smoke point, it’s great for frying and roasting as well as baking.

This recipe works with many different vegetables. My mother’s specialty is potato, or aloo satni: I remember her friends bringing various curries to our house to exchange for her bhorta, because they couldn’t make it quite as well as her. Eggplant is one of my all-time favorite vegetables, so this is the one I come back to again and again.

ANONNA AHMED is a Bronx-based content creator, designer, and enthusiastic home cook. She is a member of Jhal NYC, a social entrepreneurship venture built to empower the Bengali New York community through food. Jhal NYC employs stay-at-home mothers and new immigrants, helps build their language skills and prepares them to transition to new careers. “Jhal NYC was created to shine a light on the distinct Bengali-New York culture that we grew up in, sharing the taste of the Bengali food we were raised on, with the sound and scene of New York serving as our backdrop. It’s more than just about food, it’s about community.”

Photo by Media Farzin.

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