Eggplant is related to potato and tomato family and is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables on earth. It adapts well to almost all cooking methods – bake, braise, boil, fry, grill, sauté, steam or stew.

This traditional Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan recipe is a richly flavoured, tangy and spicy eggplant curry. The sweet and sour masala made with toasted coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds and spices gets well absorbed in the eggplant flesh and makes a great vegetarian side dish served with steamed rice and lentils main course.

The flesh of eggplant gets discoloured very quickly, so it’s better to cut it right before using it or soak it in a salted water till required for cooking. Just before cooking, throw away the salted water, rinse the egg plant with fresh water, pat dry on kitchen towel and it’s ready to be cooked.

In most traditional recipes, you will find that the eggplants are fried before they are added to the simmering curry. To make a healthier version, I bake eggplants till somewhat tender and then add them to curry prepared with reduced oil.

For Stuffed Eggplants :

4 medium eggplants
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
salt or to taste
2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup desiccated coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanuts
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or ghee

This Is What You Do :

Soak a little lump of tamarind in 1/4 cup warm water. Cut eggplants partially into quarters so that the pieces stay joined at the stalk.

Rub a little oil and salt on the eggplants, inside and out, and place them in an oven proof dish. Cover the dish with foil sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees C.

Toast coconut, peanuts, cumin, coriander, sesame seeds on a skillet till aromatic. Add to a dry mill and grind to fine powder.

Squeeze the softened tamarind pulp into the water it was soaked in, throw away pith. Add this water slowly to the spice mix in the bowl, so that it makes a thick paste.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add black nutella seeds and fry them a few seconds. Add onions and sauteed till just change colour.

Add ginger garlic paste. Saute another minute. Add spice paste and 1/4 cup water, continue to stir fry till the masala gets darker in colour and oil begins to separate on the edges.

Add eggplants and 1 cup water. Turn the heat low. Cover the pan and let the eggplants simmer in curry a few minutes. Don’t stir them a lot or they will disintegrate.

Pour the masala in the pan over them and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with steamed rice or Hyderabadi biryani.

Serves 2

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