Vangi Bhat: More Eggplant Love

Vangi Bhat, or Eggplant Rice, is one of those Tamil rice dishes that is so exquisitely tantalizing, I sometimes dream about it!

Okay, I was only kidding about the dreaming, but I do crave it all too often.

Maharashtrians make a super-delicious and more complex version of vangi bhat (that recipe incorporates more spices and peanuts) but on a weeknight I find it quicker to put together the one that I learned out of a Tamil cookbook eons ago and which instantly became a favorite.

This is my second eggplant recipe in just over a week but, as all of you cooks know, it is eggplant season out there. My vegetable patch is festooned with tiny little eggplants that I cannot wait to devour. And this week, my local farmer’s market was overflowing with eggplants of many colors and sizes- white eggplants, green Thai eggplants, skinny lilac eggplants, and many more. Since I could eat this delicious veggie any day of the week and any time of the day, I came home with armfuls of it.

For this recipe, I used a small, skinny eggplant that was pale purple streaked with white. Both the woman who sold it to me and I had no idea what the variety is called, but the usual small, egg-shaped Indian eggplants or even the bigger varieties would do perfectly well in this dish. You might have to vary the cooking time for the eggplant to ensure it is cooked through. Remember, an undercooked eggplant is worse than no eggplant at all.

So here you go with a traditional recipe for a classic dish that everyone must try one time or the other in their eggplant cooking career. Enjoy!

Vangi Bhat (Eggplant Rice)


1 cup cooked, long-grain white rice like Basmati. You could try this with brown Basmati- I am sure the robust flavors of the spices would hold their own against the earthy nuttiness of the brown rice.

6 small eggplants, or 1/2 of a large one, diced into small, even-sized pieces, around 1-cm square

1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil (not olive)

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 sprig curry leaves

Salt to taste

In a skillet, heat 1 tsp of of canola or other vegetable oil and toast until pale golden-brown and aromatic:

1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp bengal gram dal (chana dal)

1 tbsp black gram dal (udad dal)

2 red chilies.

Grind with a little water into a fairly smooth paste.

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet.

Add the mustard seeds and, when they sputter, add the curry leaves

Over medium heat, add the eggplant pieces and a little salt and toss around to coat with oil. Let the eggplant cook, stirring a few times, until it is tender and cooked through. Depending on the variety of eggplant, this should take between 10-15 minutes.

Add the ground spices and turmeric, if using, and mix thoroughly with the eggplant. Allow them to cook together for a couple of minutes so the flavors merge.

Add the cooked rice and mix together delicately, taking care not to mash the rice grains which should be separate. Turn off heat.

Garnish with fresh mint or chopped coriander, or even with some fresh grated coconut if you have some on hand.

I served this hot with some freshly fried vatrals (rice-and-lentil crisps) that my sis-in-law, Paddu, gave me on her recent visit. Bliss.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    Vaishali, those vatrals must make your Vangi Bhat all the more delectable! I just love eggplant (who doesn’t!) and it’s so nice that you have a garden and can make fresh dishes everytime you want to:-) Looking forward to try out your eggplant recipes.. I did try the stuffed eggplant, though it looked exactly like the ones in your picture, I think made some mistake somewhere with the ingredients, especially sesame quantity, the taste wasn’t exactly as it should have been…better luck next time i hope…

  2. says

    Hi Vaishali! I’ve got to make this dish as soon as my sister’s garden starts producing oodles of eggplants!

    P.S. I nominated you for the Brillant Weblog Award. The details are on my blog…

  3. says

    vangi baat -YUM. I have always wanted the recipe but did not find one I enjoyed but this one. Thanks so much for sharing. I have some eggplants sitting in my refrigerator and I am making this. Also, I can see you clearly for the first time in your pic :-) Nice! Also, I noticed that you have removed the Great mahatma Gandhi’s versus about the respect of other living beings and made me a bit sad. I think you should add that back; after all he is greatest to our nation! Just a suggestion.

  4. says

    I read the recipe, got inspired, made it already & it came out darn good. I will post it sometime this week. I really enjoyed reading your “WHY AM I A VEGAN?” and appreciate it.

  5. says

    I didn’t grown up eating vangi bhath but when it makes a regular appearance at our place now and we simply love it… :) Your version looks delectable and so much better when paired with those vadaams.

  6. says

    Vaishali , we love vangi bath and I come from a family who think life without the king of fruits is worthless. Absolutely great looking bhat.

    • says

      Hi Toya, so thrilled you liked the vangibhath– a big favorite in our house too. You can also try making it with quinoa or bulgur for an even healthier twist. Hugs. :)

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