Hyderabadi bagara baingan or Hyderabadi style tempered eggplants, a culinary delicacy from the city of Nizam’s and is perhaps the best eggplant dish I ever had.
Bagara means tempering the oil with spices, a traditional Indian practice of cooking to enhance the aroma of a dish. This dish is an amalgamation of rich Nizami cuisine (which is largely influenced by Awadhi cuisine) with flavour of rustic Andhra cuisine blending into a hallmark dish of the region.
Deep velvety purple baby eggplants are first stuffed with flavoured coconut-groundnut-sesame paste, then tempered in hot oil and finally simmered in fragrant and spicy gravy slowly absorbing the flavour and acquiring the rich and creamy taste.
The use of the ingredients like groundnut / peanuts, sesame, roasted bengal gram, dry red chillies and tangy scent of tamarind makes it unique and classified it as typical Hyderabadi cuisine.
From Paradise circle to Punjagutta, Banjara hills to Jubille hills all the restaurant serves this Hyderabadi special called baghara baingan but can you beat the home cooked version?
This recipe is special to me as this is the first Hyderabadi recipe I learnt from my friend’s aunt during my long stay in Begumpet.
They were very fond of chillies, and that too small rounded Guntur chillies (hottest in the world !) and since I also has this penchant for hot and spicy foods, it never was a problem for me. One more ingredient which they love to use is young and tender leaves of tamarind, which gives a distinct flavour to the dish.
So here is the recipe for baghare baingan or stuffed and tempered egg plants right from the house of a Hyderabadi.
Baby eggplants: 10-12 (deep purple, 2-3 cm long max. tender; If you are shopping for baby eggplants in Bangalore, then do check the Naamdharis, otherwise it’s not so common in local grocery store or vegetable market)
For tempering / bagara:
Black mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds : 1/2 tsp
Nigella / kalonji : 1/4 tsp
Garlic flakes: few
Dry red chilli (if you are using Guntur chilli then 1-2 is enough) : 4-5
Curry leaves: few
Channa dal / Bengal gram: a quarter cup
Groundnuts / peanuts: a quarter cup
Sesame seeds (white): a quarter cup
Desiccated coconut : 3/4 cup
Coriander seeds : 1 tsp
Onion paste: 2-3 tbsp
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder: 2 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Tamarind paste: 3-4 tbsp
Ground nut Oil : 4-5 tbsp
salt to taste
Method to prepare:
Wash the baby eggplants and slit them perpendicularly (make a +) in the center from the base of each eggplant to its stem, keep the stem intact. Soak the eggplants in salt water for few minutes to retain its deep purple color. Remove from the water and pat them dry.
Roast the ingredients for stuffing and blend in a mixer to a coarse paste (without adding any water) and neatly stuff the eggplants with this mixture. Keep some of the stuffing mix to be used later in the gravy.
Heat 2 tbsp ground nut oil in a pan and temper / bagar the smoking hot oil with the tempering ingredients, add the curry leaves in the end, otherwise it will get burnt.
Now lower the heat and place the stuffed eggplants in the same oil and let it cook for 10-15 minutes till they become tender. Poke the eggplants with a fork to make sure that eggplants are all well cooked.
Remove gently each of the eggplants to a serving dish and keep them aside.
Add some more oil in the pan and add the onion paste, fry till the raw smell disappear and add the ginger-garlic paste. Saute for few more minutes and add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and the remaining stuffing mix. Fry gently for few more minutes till it leaves oil.
Dilute the tamarind paste and add it to the gravy. Add salt and mix well. Add some water (1 cup) and bring it to boil. Lower the heat and gently place the eggplants in it. Simmer for few minutes till done. Check for the seasonings, adjust the sourness, salt and remove from the heat.
Serve hot the baghare baingan or tempered eggplants with Hyderabadi biryani or enjoy it simply with roti. In any case its a sure winner.
Sharing this hot and spicy baghare baingan with iftaar event @ Hyderabadi cuisine.