3tablespoonsPeanuts (use the ones without skins, if available)
1teaspoonWhole Coriander seeds
3~4Dry Red Chilies, broken
2~3Garlic cloves, minced
For Bagara Baingan:
10~12Baby Eggplants, slit ¾ of the way through by making an 'X' on the bottom
Make the Peanut-Sesame Sauce:
Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Dry roast the peanuts until lightly browned on all sides, about 3~4 minutes. Transfer them to a medium-size bowl.In the same pan, dry roast coriander, sesame, poppy seeds, dry red chilies and dry coconut until browned and aromatic, about 1~2 minutes. Add the seeds to the peanuts. Let the mixture cool, grind to a smooth paste adding little water.
Heat oil in the skillet on medium heat. Add onions, ginger and garlic. Cook until they turn lightly browned all over, about 5~6 minutes. Let them cool slightly, then grind into a smooth paste.
Prep the Eggplant:
Keep the crown intact and make a slit ¾th of the way through the eggplant by making a '+' on the bottom.
In the same pan used to make the masala, heat 1~2 teaspoons more oil. Add the eggplants and cover and cook until their skins blister and they are fork-tender, about 8~10 minutes. Remove onto a plate and set aside.
Make Bagara Baingan:
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet on medium heat. Add mustard, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Cook for 5~10 seconds. Once the seeds splutter, add the browned onions and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the peanut-coconut paste along with ½ cup of water. Reduce the flame to medium-low and cook for 3~4 minutes. Stir in the cooked eggplant, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the eggplants have absorbed the flavors from the gravy, about 8~10 minutes. Turn off the heat and the curry is ready!!
You can use either Indian or Thai purple baby eggplants. Choose small, evenly sized ones.
Though not traditional, medium size Italian or Japanese eggplants can also be used. Slice these into long thin pieces and use.
Prep the eggplants just before making the curry. If not, they will oxidize and turn dark.
Blanched peanuts without skins are best for this recipe, because they are very convenient. But feel free to use regular peanuts.
You can make the gravy up to 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to cook, add it to the dish as written in the recipe.
Note that the gravy thickens as it sits, so add water and heat it through before serving.
Store leftover baghare baingan in an airtight container for up to 3 days.