Letter B stands for veggies like Beerakaya (ridgegourd), Bendakaya (lady’s finger/ okra) and one of my favorite greens Bachalikura. B is also for Bellam or jaggery, a unrefined sweetener that is used widely in both savory and sweet dishes in A.P.
With so many B’s to choose from, I ended up choosing a dish that is very close to my heart (and tummy) and the city I’m from, Hyderabad. Hyderabadi cuisine is very famous for its Biryanis and other rich and delicious Mughal & Nizam influenced dishes. So being an eggplant lover, I couldn’t think of anything else other than Bagara Baingan for the letter B.
This dish used to be a part of almost all of the wedding menus and other functions. But there seems to be a change of trend these days and my beloved bagara baingan is hardly ever made. Which means it is time to make it right at home. I already posted my mom’s recipe here. Today’s recipe is adapted from 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer.
Bagara Baingan (Hyderabadi Baby Eggplants in Peanut-Coconut Gravy)
12 ¾EggplantsBaby - small, slit them s of the way through by making an 'X'
½cupPeanuts(use the ones without skins, if available)
1Red Onion- small, thinly sliced
2tspschili powderKashmiri red (or mix 1tsp cayenne with 1tsp sweet paprika)
4chiliesDry red - stems removed
2tspsGinger garlic+ paste
Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the peanuts and cook, stirring constantly until they turn lightly brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer them to a medium-size bowl.
Next sprinkle the sesame, poppy and coriander seeds into the same hot skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until they turn reddish brown and fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the seeds to the peanuts.
Add the grated coconut to the skillet and toast until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add this to the peanut-spice mixture.
Heat 2tbsp oil to the skillet; add onions and stir fry until they turn lightly browned all over, about 7-10 minutes. Place these onions with the oil that's leftover on the peanuts mixture. Let cool slightly, then grind into a thick paste along with 1 cup of water, red chili powder, salt and turmeric.
Heat 2tbsp oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplants and cover and cook until their skins blister and they are fork-tender, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer the eggplants to a plate.
Heat 2tbsp oil in the same skillet, add cumin seeds, curry leaves and the dry red chilies. Cook for 5-10 seconds. Immediately add ginger+garlic paste and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the paste turns light brown and has absorbed the colors and aromas from the skillet.
Now add the peanut-coconut paste along with ½cup of water. Add the eggplants and mix gently to coat them with the sauce. Reduce the flame to medium-low; cover the skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the eggplants have absorbed the flavors from the gravy, about 5-10 minutes. Serve hot with steamed rice or bagara rice or roti.