Bagara Baingan (Hyderabadi Eggplant Curry)

I know several people who do not like eggplant. I often wonder why because it is a very tasty and versatile vegetable. Definitely one of my favourites. There are literally hundreds of recipes using this vegetable. One that I have always wanted to try was the iconic Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan. But every time we prepare a dish using eggplants, this dish slips my mind. I finally remembered last week when Hari was discussing the menu with me. Fortunately so as it is one of the tastiest dishes that I have tried. This dish uses the small, purple, round eggplants.

250 gms eggplants
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
3/4 cup chopped onions
1 sprig curry leaves
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi powder, manjal podi)
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
To Roast And Grind
2 tbsp raw peanuts
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
3 tbsp grated coconut
Roast the peanuts till an aroma emanates
Add sesame seeds and continue to roast till the sesame seeds splutter
Switch off flame and add grated coconut
Cool and grind, with a little water, to a smooth paste
Set aside
Split the eggplants into 8 sections, leaving the stem intact
Place in an air fryer and ‘fry’ for about 10 minutes or until the eggplants are almost fully cooked
Set aside
Heat a wok and add the cumin and mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the onions, curry leaves and salt
Cook until the onions turn translucent (add a little water, if necessary)
In a separate pan, roast the ginger garlic paste till the raw smell evaporates
Add 1/2 cup water
Add the ground peanut mixture, red chilli powder, garam masala and turmeric powder
Mix well and cook on medium flame
Add tamarind paste
When the gravy begins to bubble, add the eggplants
Mix well till the gravy completely coats the eggplants (add a little water if necessary)
Cover and cook till the eggplants are completely done
Remove from flame and garnish with coriander leaves
Serve hot with red/brown rice or Indian breads

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