Bharli Vangi – Maharashtrian Stuffed Eggplant Curry

Maharashtrian Bharli Vangi Curry in a Peanut Sauce with fresh coriander

In Marathi ‘Bharli‘ means Stuffed and ‘Vangi‘ means Aubergine – making Bharli Vangi! The flavour of this classic Maharashtrian dish is something no one can resist, even people who aren’t fans of the vegetable.

Melt-in-the-mouth aubergine is stuffed with a delicious roasted coconut, peanut, sesame seed and simple spice mix, fried in a gloriously sweet onion masala and then slowly cooked until tender. While cooking the aromatic stuffing slowly becomes one with the gravy of the dish, coating each aubergine in a thick, spicy, nutty sauce.

Bharli Vangi is so loved across Maharashtra that it is a mainstay on wedding menus and function feasts. The dish has everything – spice, slight sourness and a subtle sweetness. The coconut, roasted until golden, lends a subtle wash of milky sweetness without becoming overpowering. Powered and roasted peanuts also bring sweetness – but with an earthy, nutty overtone. The fragrance of sesame seeds brings the other two ingredients together, melding the nutty flavours into a triad of yum.

Although this dish is slightly fiery from ample use of tikhat (chilli powder), the spicing is otherwise kept fairly simple. This allows the aromatic pungency of the famous Marathi spice blend Goda Masala to shine through alongside the gorgeous aubergines.

Whenever I can get my hands on baby aubergines, there’s no doubt that this dish is being made. It’s such a treat!

Bharli Vangi is completely Vegan, Gluten Free and Soy Free.

Not only is this one of my all time favourite Indian curry dishes, but it’s also suitable Vegans and those with Gluten or Soy intolerances. It includes no dairy products whatsoever – in-fact I would actively discourage using ghee in this dish. The neutral flavoured oil allows the strong flavours of the nuts and spices to shine through without any extra richness.

The only thing this recipe is not, is nut free. Unfortunately both peanuts and sesame seeds are a mainstay in Marathi cuisine in general, and particularly this dish. In a pinch you could leave out the sesame seeds, but the peanuts are irreplaceable. For nut-free recipes, you can check here.

What sort of Aubergine (Eggplant) is Used for Bharli Vangi?

To make this recipe we have to use a special variety of ‘baby’ aubergines which are commonly used in India called ‘Brinjal’. They are a small, squat, and round shaped as opposed to the long Globe Aubergine and Italian Aubergine which you are likely to find at your local supermarket.

Pick the Indian aubergine which have the smoothest skin with the least blemishes and scratches. To tell the freshness and pick the best ones, select the aubergine that have the most green stems without brownness.

We are lucky enough in the UK that some large supermarkets actually stock these little aubergines! However, if you have an Asian supermarket nearby you are almost guaranteed to find these little beauties in the vegetable aisle. The green varieties are good too – some people even prefer to make Bharli Vangi with them!

If you can’t find these Indian aubergines anywhere, what can you do? Well, in a pinch you can just use a standard Globe or Italian Aubergine. You won’t be able to stuff it, so just cut it into chunks. Instead of using the masala paste to stuff them, simply fry it until the oil separates at the sides and then add the chopped aubergine and finally water.

This Recipe Is…

  • Vegan, Diary Free, Gluten Free and Soy Free
  • Authentic Maharashtrian cuisine
  • Nutritious with lots of protein from nuts
  • Richly spiced and well balanced
  • Healthy and delicious!

If you’re interested in more easy Marathi recipes, then do check out this famous street-food made from Mashed Vegetables, Pav Bhaji; a healthy and light breakfast, Sabudana Khichdi; as well as the desserts Aamrakhand, Til Chikki, and Sevai Kheer. More Vegan recipes for you to check out are this incredible take on Chilli Paneer, Chilli Tofu; one of the most popular recipes of all time, Chana Masala; and Patta Gobi Sabji, among others.

Maharashtrian Bharli Vangi Curry in a Peanut Sauce with fresh coriander

Bharli Vangi - Maharashtrian Stuffed Eggplant Curry

Yield: 3-4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

A delicious Vegan curry made from Baby Aubergines stuffed with roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, coconut, and spices - then cooked in a spicy, thick gravy.


For the Stuffing:

For the Gravy:


    1. Dry roast the ingredients for the stuffing. Heat a large frying pan or kadai over medium heat and add the peanuts. Dry roast until dark brown spots appear, then remove from the heat and leave to cool in a bowl. While you're waiting for the peanuts to cool add the sesame seeds to the same pan and cook for a minute or so until slightly coloured and aromatic, then add to a grinder jar. Repeat the same process with the desiccated coconut, this time cooking until a deep golden.
    2. When the peanuts have cooled, rub the peanuts to remove all the skins. Place the deskinned peanuts into the grinder jar along with the sesame seeds, coconut, and fresh coriander, and grind into a fine powder (similar to the texture of almond powder).
    3. Stuff the aubergines. Add the ground powder to a small bowl and add the ginger-garlic paste and spices. Mix it all together well. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut a + shaped slit into the bottom of the aubergine, leaving the top intact. Stuff each aubergine with the nut & spice mixture and set aside.*
    4. Make the gravy. Heat the oil of your choice in a large kadai or saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop and crack. Next add the onions and sauté until just caramelizing - a few minutes. Next add the tomatoes and cook for around 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously, until the oil leaves the sides of the pan and the tomatoes break down into a 'jam' like consistency. Finally add the Red Chilli Powder, Cumin Powder, and the stuffed Aubergines.
    5. Fry the aubergines for a minute, turning them around to coat them well in the spices. Add the water and jaggery to the pan. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for around 20-30 minutes (timings depends on your stovetop), until the aubergine is fully cooked, the gravy has thickened, and the oil has separated to the top of the pan.
    6. Finally, add the garam masala and stir through. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit for 1-2 minutes, then garnish with chopped coriander and serve.


*Note: Stuffing the Brinjals (Eggplant/Aubergine) doesn't have to be tidy. Just make sure to get all the stuffing in there. While they cook in the curry the stuffing will gradually melt into the sauce rather than staying inside the Brinjal, so how tightly they're stuffed doesn't matter.

If you're short on time you can even skip stuffing the Brinjal. If you decide to go this route, make sure to still slit them so all the lovely flavours can get inside. Make the stuffing mix as instructed in the recipe, but instead of using it to stuff the brinjal simply add it to the pan just after the tomatoes. Follow the recipe as stated - frying it for around 10 minutes - and then add the slit Brinjal. Proceed as usual.

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How to serve Maharashtrian Bharli Vangi?

Traditionally we serve this Vegan stuffed eggplant curry alongside Varan and Poli or Bhakri (Sorghum Flour Flatbread)- Marathi Toor Dal with simple spices and soft Chapatis. The thick and spicy gravy scooped up on a Chapati and dipped into mild and creamy Dal is just a match made in heaven!

However, this curry can be enjoyed in many ways, including with either Puri or Naan! You can even serve it alongside some Dal Tadka and Rice as well as bread for a more complex meal.

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