Today I bring to a dish that is straight from the city of Nizams. The Hyderabadi bagara baingan is a mixture of the Nizami cuisine and the rustic Andhra cuisine. This dish is perhaps the one of the best ways to cook eggplants.
Baghara baingan literally translates to tempered eggplants. The method of sautéing the eggplants in oil that is tempered with aromatic spices, takes the taste quotient of this to another lever altogether.
The irresistible flavor of the bagara baingan lies in it's spice mix. The spice mix is a unique blend of spices, seeds and nuts. Fascinating isn't it? Baby eggplants are first sautéed in oil and then simmered in the spicy gravy. This process of cooking the egg plants twice, makes them acquire a rich creamy taste.
This recipe for the baghara baingan is from a TV show that I had seen a long time ago. The addition of cashewnuts along with the peanuts and sesame seeds, lends a characteristic sweet and nutty flavor to the gravy. The process of cooking this dish might seem little laborious and time consuming. But trust me, it is well worth the effort. All it would take is just one bite and I assure you, you will be hooked. Hooked enough to lick the plate clean :)
Hyderabadi baghara baingan Recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time: 15min
Baby Eggplants- 10-12
Nigella seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- 8-10
Tamarind- A small lime sized, soaked and pulp extracted
Salt to taste
Ingredients for the spice mix:
jeera or cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Ginger- 1" piece
Garlic- 2 cloves
Onion- 1 medium, chopped fine
Peanuts- 2 tbspns
Sesame seeds- 1 tsp
Cashewnuts- 2 tbsps
Coriander seeds- 1tbsp
Freshly grated coconut- 3tbsp
Kashmiri red chilies- 3-4
- Wash the eggplants and pat them dry. Slit the eggplants length wise into fours but keep the stems intact. This way, the egg plants remain joined at the stem. Keep aside.
- Heat a tspn of oil in a separate pan and add the cumin seeds, peanuts and cashew nuts and fry for a few seconds. Add ginger, garlic and chopped onion and fry for a min. Add the turmeric, coriander seeds, coconut and Kashmiri red chilies and fry till the mixture is brown. Allow the mixture to cool completely and blend to a fine paste using a little water and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan and fry the egg plants till brown and tender, remove and keep aside.
- Add the nigella seeds to the same oil and allow them to crackle. Stir in the curry leaves and fry for a few seconds. Add the ground paste, tamarind pulp, salt and jaggery and mix well.
- Add the sautéed egg plants and 1/2 cup of water and cook covered over low heat till the egg plants are cooked through and soft.
- Serve the curry hot with either rice or rot is.