15 January, 2013

Achari Baingan Recipe | Eggplants with Pickling Spices

Learn how to make Achari Baingan ~
Baby eggplants cooked with aromatic pickling spices (No onion and garlic, vegan recipe)

When the cold months of winter arrive, it also brings along the desire to eat food that not just nourishing but is also comforting and warming. The focus shifts from a plate of cold salads and tall glass of chilled drinks of summer to the bowl of hot soups and spicy curries. And then there are pickles… Spicy, astringent, tart and oh-so-comfortingly-delicious pickles!!!
Eggplants cooked in aromatic pickling spices

My love for pickle is a talking point with my family and friends, so much so that I end up being a butt of their so called ‘pickle’ jokes! It was no surprise that the bottle of homemade pickles were on the top gift lists for my birthdays as it was sure to win my heart and make my day! I belong to the very rare group of species who can survive not tasting a piece of sugar loaded sweets for rest of their life, but supposedly go little berserk when a meal is served without a piece of pickle adorning the plate! My love or madness for pickle became little too much to handle when DH and I were dating and I ended up asking for some pickle at high end Italian restaurant to go with my plate of pasta! In my defence all I want to say that it was one bland plate of pasta, not even close to what authentic Italian home cooks make!

Tastes just like a good pickle ~ Achari Baingan

Now that I have made my love story for pickle public, I am hoping that I will find one or two pickle lovers like myself here to come and defend me when my family and friends decide to put the spot light on me when the subject of pickle comes up! Come on… Share your story… If it helps little, I have this special recipe, Achari Baingan, for all my pickle loving readers!

Spicy, sour and pungent ~ Achari Baingan

Achari Baingan is one of THE best curries that you can make for pickle loving souls in your life. The word ‘Achar’ means pickle and ‘Baingan’ means eggplant/aubergine in Hindi. When you hear the word Achar it is quite natural for many people to imagine this dish made with pickle or think that eggplants are used in making the pickle. Many find the name Achari Baingan misguiding and I too belonged to the same category for sometime until I got to taste this dish made by my close friend’s mother in my teens. The recipe is built on the basic pickling spices; mustard, cumin, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chilli which are prominently used in North Indian pickles. Unlike any pickles which can be stored for few months or even years, the shelf life of Achari Baingan is just few days. Psst… I will be surprised if this finger-licking good Achari Baingan stays for more than three days! It is seriously good…

Warming abnd comforting for cold winter months ~ Achari Baingan

After rambling so much about my love for pickles, I’ll restrain myself from boring you to death with my love for eggplants as I have narrated my love saga over the years. Instead let me tell you how good this Achari Baingan tastes and stress on the very important fact as why you should give it a try as soon as possible! It is almost magical to see how the bland eggplant gets transformed into a delicious curry when the tantalising and tongue tickling pickling spices are used in cooking. The fleshy eggplant pieces absorbs the the flavours of aromatic spices and it is a match made in heaven! This dish is how a pickle should be, spicy, astringent, and sour. The touch of sourness comes from the amchur power which is a dried mango powder instead of vinegar which is used in most of the Punjabi pickles. The garam masala is added at the end of cooking and not along with other spice powders make a lot of difference by retaining its distict flavour and aroma. Served with a bowl of hot rice, ghee and dal, it was one the most satisfying meals I had after a long time and what more, I didn’t even miss eating pickle with my meal :)

Ingredients for Achari Baingan
Irresistible ~ Achari Baingan

Achari Baingan

Achari Baingan (Baby eggplants cooked with aromatic pickling spices ~ No onion and no garlic recipe)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium
Serves: 5-6 people
Shelf Life: 3 days in fridge
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice

10-12 Baby Eggplants or 1 large Eggplant/Aubergine
1 tsp Ginger Paste
A generous pinch of Sugar (Optional)
2 tbsp Oil (Preferably mustard oil)
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
2 springs Curry Leaves (Optional but recommended)
Salt to taste

Spices Used:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
½ tsp Saunf/Fennel Seeds
½ tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
¼ tsp Kalonji/Nigella Seeds
1 heaped tsp Dhania/Coriander Powder
¼ tsp Jeera/Cumin Powder
½ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder/Paprika (as per taste)
1 tsp Garam Masala (as per taste)
¾ tsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder
Achari Baingan ~ Eggplants cooked in Pickling Spices

  1. Trim the stems of baby eggplants and cut them into 4 equal length wise pieces. If using large eggplant, trim and discard the crown and cut them into 1 and half inch long pieces. Soak them in a bowl of cold water to prevent them for discolouring.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds.
  3. When mustard seeds crackle and the fenugreek seeds turn light brown in colour, add hing and curry leaves and give it a quick stir.
  4. Add ginger paste and fry it till its raw smell disappears, about 30-45 seconds, on medium flame.
  5. Mix in turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder and chilli powder and fry the spices for half a minute on medium flame. Make sure that you don’t burn the spices.
  6. Drain all the water from eggplants before putting them in a pan. Mix them well so that every piece is coated well with the spice mix.
  7. Add about 1-2 tbsp of water and cover the pan with lid. Let it cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes on medium flame.
  8. Open the lid and stir in salt to taste. Cover and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes on medium flame, stirring after every 1 minute.
  9. Next add garam masala, sugar and amchur powder and mix them well. Let it cook uncovered for few more minutes till the eggplants are cooked through but still retain their shape.
  10. Serve this amazing Achari Baingan hot garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice.
Achari Baingan

Sia’s Notes:
  • Make sure that you don’t cook the eggplants for too long. You want them tender retaining their shape and not mushy.
  • Garam masala and amchur powder is added at the end of cooking so that their aroma and flavour is retained.
  • I have used Amchur (dry mango powder) instead of vinegar which is used in most of the Achari dishes. Feel free to replace the amchur powder with ½ - 1 tbsp of vinegar as per taste.


  1. Flavorful! I love eggplants, so I'll try this dish in the summertime.



  2. That looks spicy good Sia. I am not a huge fan of eggplants but sometime I eat spicy ones like your recipe with rasam rice. That seriously looks so comforting for the cold weather here.

  3. Looks heavenly for a Baingan lover :). thanks for sharing

  4. Did I see a hole in your wooden laddle?? That's interesting! :D

    Beautiful clicks Sia. Ofcourse this does send my taste bud tongue tickling. And who doesn't love pickles. The thought itself lends my tongue salivating. Beautiful!

  5. Beautiful Pics Sia.

    This is so frequent in my kitchen...I add equal sized slices of lightly fried potatoes with baingan too, as I am not very fond of baingan :)

  6. Superb pics as always!

    Just love your blog and your recipes. My family is mostly non veg and find veg very boring. But one look at your awesome recipes and i wonder who ever said veg was boring. Keep it up and get well soon wishes for your son.

  7. You taught me one of the best way to use baigan. There was only couple of ways we normally eat it, because the husband gets all picky. This one, he might really like, cause just like you , he loves aachar :)

  8. I don't know how anyone diets in winter!! Give me a meal of Achari Baingan and some roti any day...

  9. What more can we expect than this wonderful looking achari baigan... in this winter.. I go with you... definitely a big yes to hot and spicy food in winter. Lovely presentation Sia!

  10. Excited to try this. What is a meal without pickle? (I'm a bit pickle crazy too!)

  11. Dear Sia,

    I am a first timer to your blog and simply love the fact that I have found another person who loves pickles as well as egg plants like I do!!! Totally agree with you on the pickle aspect as I am another fanatic, although I try to curb my needs while eating Italian :) :) Loved your recipe and will definitely try this ASAP!!! Thanks a ton. looking forward to going through the other recipes on your blog.
    Cheers and all the best

  12. Is kalonji compulsory? Can I make this recipe without it?

  13. Is kalonji compulsory? Can we make this recipe without it?

    1. Not really. You can skip using it and it should taste good even without it. Let me know how you like it.


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