24 May, 2009

Baghare Baingan: From Nawaab's Darbar to My Plate!


Baghare Baingan

What happens when my current obsession meets my all time favourite vegetable? The answer is not just licked clean plate but licked clean vessel in which it was cooked, and also the fate doesn’t end there! It goes well beyond like licked clean spoon, serving bowl, and storing container also. Err… pardon my poor sense of humour but being foodie and food blogger means suffering some side effects of the same!!!
So my current obsession being Peanuts and my all time favourite vegetable being Brinjal I had to cook Baghare Baingan. ‘Baghar’ means Tadka or tempering and ‘Baingan’ is of course eggplants in Urdu and loosely translated Baghare Baingan means ‘Tempered Eggplants’. The technique of tempering which is well known in Indian cooking is nothing but flavouring the oil with aromatic spices and herbs which takes any dish to another level in taste department.

I first tasted ‘Baghare Baingan’ at my friend’s wedding who was a resident of royal city of Nawaabs in south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh called Hyderabad. This delightful bi-religious city is famous for its world famous cuisine and honestly I feel Baghare Baingan is one their best and finest delicacies. My friend always said that no important function is complete without serving Baghare Baingan in their lunch or dinner menu. It said to be one of the main dishes served in Nawaabi Darbar (royal court) as it uses rich ingredients fit for kings and queens palettes. Although we don’t have any royalties ruling our country anymore, they have left their rich food culture which occasionally every common man can enjoy in their modest homes.

The trademark of this dish is baby eggplants which are cooked twice, first shallow fried in oil and then cooked in creamy and delicious gravy of peanuts and coconut along with caramelised onions. While these caramelised onions lend its sweet taste to the base gravy, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and peanut give it a nutty flavour. And addition of roasted dry coconut gives it a creamy, dreamy texture to already rich and flavoursome gravy. The actual spices used are handful in the base gravy. But the real smoky flavour comes from the Baghar or Tadka or tempering of selected aromatic spices that infuse smoky flavour to the base gravy. The recipe may sound little laborious and time consuming but trust me when I say it’s worth it. It won’t take more than one bite for your loved one to fall in love with this dish and of course, fall in love with you again ;)

While we are talking of recipes, how about some delicious, quick meal? Check my post on Lemon Rice at Beyond Curries for this weekend's quick fix meal ideas :)

Roasted Spices, Coconut, Peanuts & Onions for Baghare Baingan

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Baghare Baingan (Tempered Baby Eggplants in rich & creamy sauce of roasted Peanuts & Coconut)
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
Serves: 5-6
Recipe Inspiration: 660 Curries
Recipe Level: Medium to High
Spice Level: Medium
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads or flavoured/steam cooked Rice

10-12 Baby Purple Brinjals/Eggplants
2-4 tbsp Oil (I used 2 tbsp Oil)
Salt to taste

For Peanut-Coconut Gravy:
2 medium Onions, thinly sliced
½ cup Peanuts
¼ cup Desiccated Coconut/Kobbari (Dry Coconut)
1½ tbsp White Sesame Seeds
½ tbsp White Poppy Seeds
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Red Chilli Powder (Preferably Kashmiri/Dhegi Chilli Powder. Substitute it with 1 tsp chilli powder+1 tsp Paprika, adjust acc to taste)
¾ tsp Haldi/turmeric Powder
1 tsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder or 1 tsp Tamarind Paste (Optional, adjust acc to taste)
½ -1 tbsp Jaggery/Brown Sugar (Adjust acc to taste)

For Baghar/Tadka/Tempering:
1-2 tbsp Ghee/Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
½ tsp Kalonji/Nigella Seeds (Optional)
1 tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds (Optional)
2 Dry Red Chillies (halved)
A Spring of Curry Leaves
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste

Baghare Baingan

Preparing Peanut-Coconut Paste:
Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a pan and add thinly sliced onions. Fry these onions till they are caramelised and turn golden brown, about 5-8 mins, on medium-high heat. Transfer them into a food processor or mixer jar.
In a same oil roast coriander seeds, sesame seeds and poppy seeds till they turn light golden and release their aroma. Add them to caramelised onions.
In a same wok, stir in desiccated coconut and sauté till they turn light golden shade. Add them to caramelised onion and roasted spices.
Next roast peanuts in a same pan till they are lightly roasted, about 3 minutes, on medium-high flame. Mix them with other fried/roasted ingredients.
Let all these roasted/fried ingredients cool slightly.
Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, jaggery and dry mango powder/tamarind paste with other roasted ingredients.
Grind these ingredients to smooth paste adding enough water (about ¼-½ cup) as and when needed. Keep it aside until needed.

Preparing Baby Brinjal:
You can keep the stems or simply remove it as I have done here. Wash the eggplants and pat them dry.
Make ‘+’ incisions carefully from the base of each eggplant, making sure that the stem end is intact.
Heat oil in a wok and arrange all the eggplants in single layer. The water in eggplant will make the oil to splutter. So cover the wok with lid and reduce the heat to medium-high.
Cook these eggplants, stirring in between, till their skin is charred and they fork tender, about 10-15 mins.
Transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb excess oil.

Preparing Baghar/Tempering:
Heat 2 tbsp of ghee/oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When mustard starts to pop and splutter, add cumin seeds, kalonji, methi, hing, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Sauté till cumin seeds turn golden red in colour, about 1 min.
Next add ginger-garlic paste and keep stirring till the paste turns golden red and becomes dry mass, about 2-3 minutes, on medium heat.
Mix in Peanut-Coconut paste that you had prepared earlier and close the lid for a minute or two. This way the base gravy gets smoky flavour of bhagar or tempering of spices.
Open the lid and let the paste cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring in between, on medium flame.
Add about ½ -1 cup of water to the gravy and salt to taste and bring the whole mixture to gentle boil, about 5 mins.
Drop shallow fried baby eggplants into the gravy and cook uncovered for another 10-15 minutes till eggplants are cooked through and all the flavours blend well.
Serve this delicious Bhagare Baingan with any Indian flat bread or bowl of steamed or flavoured rice and enjoy!

Baghare Baingan

Use small Indian eggplants that are fresh, round and have shiny purple body and green stems. If they have black seeds then it is better to discard them as they tend to be bitter in taste.
If you don’t get baby eggplants then simply use the common purple aubergines you get in your nearby supermarket. Slit this big eggplant lengthwise and then slice them in to ½ inch moons and proceed with the recipe.
While grinding all the roasted spices, peanuts, onion and coconut, you can also add few cashews nuts or almonds which lend rich taste to the gravy.


  1. Just my kind of dish. Brinjals and peanuts a match made to celebrate :)

  2. Nooooooooo....You are way too fast in posting brinjal dishes! I am in such a dilemma now..rhengan reveya or this one? maybe saturday RR and sunday this one!

  3. Your baingans are always always so beautiful.

    Wow sia you had been away to such a beautiful place, how does it feel being back from a vacation like this ?

  4. Hi Sia, what mouth-watering pictures. Love the picture of the roasted spices and ingredients for the masala. This recipe is a winner:-)Amazing post, truly deserving of the dish.

  5. Oh my God! Sia, Baghara Baingan looks so yummy! My mouth is watering here! Those photos are too good! :)

  6. I could pick one brinjal out of the kadai and eat it! Nice pictures (as usual).

  7. Nice pics there... I love baingan and they taste great with peanuts so tempting!!!

  8. Rich and creamy curry Sia...looks delicious :)

  9. Oh wow, I got such pains in my stomach seeing this... I am so hungry now! I love this dish... I will have to try your recipe :)

  10. Looks very delicious. I have tried a similar version at my friend's place and fell in love with it :) I've bookmarked this recipe.

  11. I love this dish. Reminds of days in Hyd with the girl gang eating biryani with baghara baingan or mirchi ka salan and watching chick-flicks :(

  12. Wow !! I have been following your blog for quite some time now and.. Have almost become a fan of yours.. I end up checking your blog every now and then to see if you have posted a new recipe.. This recipe is just awesome.. I have to try it.. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes..

  13. hey sia, how have u been. Ya Seattle is a must for ecvery foodie.
    The baigan ka subzi looks so rich. I love the peanut gravy. Really nice.

  14. Baghare Baingan is my favorite accompaniment along with Biryani. I also enjoy it simply along with Roti.
    Your method is slightly different from the way I prepare it, I do not add ginger garlic paste, and a few other spices that you have added.
    The pictures are terrific, like always. Looks mouthwatering!

  15. Sia, girl this is mouthwatering, wish someone made it for me.

  16. Mee first to comment ? This looks delicious and the list of spices are tempting m to try it soon. ave never tried the peanu sauce which you use use it for several gravies. This is a real Nawaabi treat!

  17. The snaps look wonderful Sia! I love this gravy more than the baingans. :-)

  18. Your pics can make a brinjal hater too, to try them once. Mouthwatering pics..

  19. OOmy that plate look so inviting delicious curry my all time favorite for pulao or biriyani yum yum

  20. Hi Sia,
    Lol...on the side effects of food blogging, that was a good one ;)

    what a befitting title for the royal dish. Love the roasted spices used here. I haven't made baghare baingan at home, but have made a baby brinjal dish with bengali spices equally tasty but a very simple preparation compared to this one. Reading the recipe source...I needn't say more, it sure has a magnetic effect :) I'll sure make it sometime.
    lovely snaps.

  21. Wow Wow.Love the dish.Truly its royal.Love all the pics Sia.Am et to try it by myself.

  22. aha !, that's what i thought when i saw this post, how many baingan recipes now i have to cook..!!, it's so tempting, if only i could take it from the screen it would have been soooo... nice ! isn't it ? pic r gr8 too..., and the explanation for that recipe is brilliant.

  23. Hi Sia, I've been an admirer of your blog lately....great recipes and awesome photos!! The baghare baigan look fantastic....I just made mirchi ka salan yest which has a similar gravy and now I'm eager to try this with baigan. Does look very Nawabi....Thanks!!

  24. Sounds delicious. Love eggplant, and with summer arriving with its bounty of eggplants of all kinds, can't wait to try all sorts of new recipes. Thanks for posting this, Sia.

  25. ummm i am droolin here,.:-)

  26. I've had this very often... so much so that I never bothered to make it.

    I should try :)

  27. I just bought some baby eggplants and I know what I could do with them. Thanks for a mouth-watering, gorgeous curry Sia!

  28. First time here, just love baingans. We use besan for stuffing, peanut seems to be more interesting and rich. Very nice recipe.

  29. I have to say "wah, kya title hai". This dish sounds super delish. I have an affinity towards peanuts as well, and it does not go away.

  30. Oh Ho Nawabi Shwabhi Khaana....fit- for- Royals curry...i had once tried this type of peanut curry for paneer, but the combo didn't clicked, and the gravy turned out to be too nutty and sweet at same time.The flavors didn't got balanced and i keep on adding one seasoning or other , trying to adjust the flavor, and ended in making it a huge mass of inedible mess, since then i never dared to move out of comfort zone of onion+cashewnuts+poppy seeds gravy
    But u know what, i am itching now to take a challenge again, all for my love for the eggplants, and wish i could make them look as stunning as yours :-)

  31. Wow...it looks absolutely delcious! Truly fot for a king :) Thanks for sharing the recipe Sia!

  32. OMG this looks sooooo delicious and tasty..love the pic..next time i m cooking with baby brinjals i m surely making this dish :)

  33. I did visit your page before and I totally admire it. Love the royal look of the dish,reminds me of the place where I belong.

  34. Picture looks so tempting and yummy.. Your pictures are always superb.. I love this baigan so much..

  35. Oh my this really takes the Brinjal to a dizzying height I guess....so rich and creamy...need to find some poppy seeds and am all set to experiment...

  36. Looks delicious! Gr8 click asusual!

  37. Sia,
    always so mouth-watering stuff ..whenevr i visit here..pics are gorgeous!
    Last time it was some Gujrati Brinjals I guess and now Royal brinjals WOW!
    hugs and smiles

  38. That dish looks so wonderfully of flavor! I'm making this asap!

  39. Looks so mouth-watering! I love spices but I am a bit scared to use them.

  40. Certainly looks finger-licking good,I'm sure the Nawabs would be impressed:)

  41. Looks so delicious Sia I am biting my nails off. I am going through your backlog of recipes now, it's been too long for me...

  42. Tried this with slight modifications..came out yummy..
    posted same on my blog with ack.
    Thanks a lot:)

  43. I love your website. It looks soo cool and the pictures are just beautiful. Full perfection. I made this recipe recently and it came out GREAT!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  44. @kaska, thank you. Glad you liked the dish :)

  45. Thanks for sharing a good list of information. I find it very useful.

  46. Thanks for sharing a good list of information. I find it very useful.

  47. This recipe of yours turns out perfect every time i try it. Thanks. Keep up the good work.:)


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