Hyderabadi Eggplant Curry

Baghara Baigan

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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.

 

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Vegetable Biryani

Vegetable Biryani

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Serves: 4

This dish comes from city of Hyderabad, Southern part of India.
Ingredients
For fried shallots and marinade:
  • 1 lb. shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or melted butter or canola oil
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dhana-jeeru (spice blend of ground coriander and cumin), see Note.
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, see Note.
  • 1 lb. paneer, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1 inch dice
  • 10 to 12 cauliflower florets
  • ½ of green pepper cut into 1 inch dice
  • ½ of red pepper cut into 1 inch dice
  • 2 carrots cut into 1 inch dice
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish
Dough lid (optional):
  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup or more water
Rice:
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Biryani:
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • ½ cup warm cooking water of rice
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon rose water (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Directions
  1. Fried shallots: Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or butter or oil in a large non-stick skillet until shimmering. Add shallots and let it cook on medium heat until golden brown, stirring occasionally. This takes about 9 to 10 minutes. Let shallots cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. While shallots are cooling, mix yogurt, salt, lemon juice, remaining oil or ghee or butter, ginger, garlic and dry spices into medium mixing bowl. Add vegetables and paneer except peas. Stir with yogurt and spices to coat them with marinade.
  3. Once shallots are cooled, reserve one third in a small bowl. Add remaining shallots to vegetables and paneer. Stir the mixture and let it stand for 30 minutes or so.
  4. While vegetables are marinating, make dough lid. Mix flour and water in a medium mixing bowl until soft dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Make a ball and roll into ¼ inch thick rope which can be wrapped around the lid of large size Dutch oven. Cover the dough lid with kitchen towel.
  5. Make rice: Rinse rice in cold water until water runs clear and drain excess water. Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large sauce pan. Wrap whole spices into a piece of cheese cloth and tie with a kitchen twain. Add to sauce pan along with oil or butter or ghee, salt, nutmeg and caraway seeds. Stir in rice. Bring rice to simmer and cook only half way, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the spice bundle and reserve ½ cup cooking liquid.
  6. Assemble biryani: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine saffron and pinch of sugar or salt into a mortar, and with a pestle make it into fine powder. Transfer to a measuring cup. Pour warm cooking water from rice over it and mix until saffron is almost dissolved. Spray large Dutch oven with non-stick spray to avoid paneer sticking to bottom. Drizzle 1 tablespoon ghee or butter in a large Dutch oven. Spoon half of vegetable mixture over it and spread it in even layer. With a skimmer or a fine sieve drain excess liquid from rice and spread half of rice over vegetables. Top with half of remaining ghee or butter, shallots, garam masala, saffron water, rose water and cilantro. Repeat the same layering once more. Cover with lid and wrap the dough lid on top of it. Press the dough to tightly seal it. Bake the biryani for 15 to 20 minutes or until the dough lid is golden brown. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Remove dough lid, uncover lid, top with green peas and cilantro. Serve immediately with cucumber raita.
Notes
Dhana-jeeru and garam masala are readily available in Indian grocery stores.

 

 

Quick Vegetable Biryani

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Serves: 4

This recipe can be made with leftover rice.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup assorted vegetables
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas
  • 2 teaspoons ghee or butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole gloves
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cardamom pods
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chili, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or chili powder
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • Salt to taste
Directions
  1. Heat ghee or butter with oil on a medium high in a frying pan or a wok until simmering. Add cumin and mustard seeds and let them sizzle, 30 seconds. Lower the heat to medium. Sprinkle saffron threads in over oil while crushing them with your fingertips. Sauté saffron in fat until fat picks up color, about 30 seconds. Next add whole spices with bay leaf and sauté for 30 seconds.
  2. Add onions and sauté those until edges are brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and green chili, and sauté those for 1 minute. Next add garam masala and paprika or chili powder and sauté those for 30 seconds.
  3. Increase heat to high. Add vegetables and stir fry those for 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables soft but still crunchy. Add cooked rice and season with salt. Stir fry rice with vegetables until coated with spices, about 1 to 2 minutes. Next add peas and stir to combine with rice. Lower the heat to low. Cover the pan or wok with a lid and let everything cook together to blend all the flavors for 2 to 3 minutes. Before serving garnish with cilantro. Serve warm with cucumber raita.

 

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