Hyderabadi Eggplant Curry

Baghara Baigan

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Cook time: 

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Serves: 4

This dish is from city of Hyderabad, Southern part of India, and it is usually served with Biryani. It is made with small purple egg sized eggplants.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. Indian eggplant (8 to 10 baigan)
  • ½ lb. green chilies, spicy or mild or mix of both (8 to 10)
  • ½ cup raw peanuts
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup fresh shredded coconut, See note.
  • 15 to 20 Curry leaves
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chili, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 4 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, See note.
  • 2 teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste, See note.
  • 1 cup flavorless oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
Directions
  1. Wash eggplants and pat dry. Make an X cut on ⅓ of eggplant on stemless side, keeping the stem. Repeat the same with rest of eggplants. Wash chilies and pat dry. Keep them whole with steams, cut them in half if long.
  2. Heat a skillet or a cast iron pan. Add peanuts and roast them until very light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sesame seeds and roast them for 30 seconds or until they start to pop. Immediately add coconut and roast until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes. Once it’s cooled, combine roasted peanut mixture, shallot, jalapeno or serrano chili, ginger and garlic in food processor bowl and make thick paste. Add couple of tablespoons or more water to move the contents in food processor. Set it aside.
  3. Dissolve tamarind paste into ¼ cup of water in a small bowl and set it aside.
  4. In a frying pan, heat oil on a medium high heat until shimmering. Add eggplants and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes until skin is light brown. Remove from oil and let excess oil drain on a wire racked sheet pan or paper towels lined plate. Lower the heat and remove extra oil from pan, leaving about ¼ cup of oil. Reserve extra oil. Sauté green chilies in oil until they start to blister, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove chilies from oil and let excess oil drain on a wire racked sheet pan or paper towels lined plate.
  5. Add more oil to frying pan to make about ¼ cup from reserved oil. Increase heat to medium high again. Once oil shimmers add cumin and mustard seeds and let them sizzle, 30 seconds. Add curry leaves, let them crisp for 40 to 50 seconds. Be careful as they will splatter oil. Add peanut mixture paste, turmeric, garam masala and chili powder. Sauté the paste with spices for 3 to 4 minutes or until you see oil separating. Add tamarind water and stir. If gravy is too thick add some water. Season the gravy with salt. Add eggplants and submerge them in gravy. Cover the pan and let eggplants cook until soft but not mushy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover and add blistered chilies. Stir the contents and let everything cook in gravy for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Before serving garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with Nan and/or Biryani.
Notes
Garam masala, tamarind paste and frozen shredded fresh coconut are readily available in Indian stores.