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Kashmiri Style Khatte Baingan

Eggplants made in a Kashmiri tangy fennel flavoured sauce. You only need a few main ingredients
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, Kashmiri
Keyword: Chhokh Vangun, Kashmiri Khatte Baingan
Servings: 4 people
Author: Sakshi Kapoor

Equipment

  • A small mesh strainer
  • Wok (Kadhai)
  • Turner

Ingredients

  • 500 grams Eggplants any size or variety
  • 1 tbsp Tamarind (Imli) (If using Tamarind paste, use 2 tablespoons); See notes for replacement options
  • 1 tbsp Fennel Seeds (Saunf) (if using fennel seed powder, add 2 teaspoons)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/8th cup Vegetable Oil (I used Peanut Oil)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder,
  • 1/2 cup Filtered Water Plus extra for soaking tamarind to make a thin extract

Instructions

Soaking the Tamarind to make a thin extract and Other Prep

  • Start by soaking the tamarind in warm water for 5-10 minutes. If you are using tamarind paste, dilute it in around 1/4th cup of water.
    Kashmiri Khatte Baingan
  • Meanwhile wash and pat dry the eggplants. Cut them whichever way you like. I used baby eggplants and cut them into quarters. If the eggplants you are using are bigger, cut them into six or eight pieces. Bigger eggplants can be cut into 1 cm thick disks.
    Sliced eggplants

Frying the sliced Eggplants

  • Place a kadhai or pan on medium heat. Add oil and let it heat. Next, gently place all the sliced eggplants in the hot oil. Cook for 7-10 minutes by stirring them occasionally till they start browning. Don't over stir. You could add more oil here, if you like these to be done faster. Once done, take them out in a plate.
    Kashmiri Khatte Baingan
  • The eggplants are thirsty and soak up most of the oil. If there is a lot of oil left in the kadhai, take out some so that only 1 tablespoon worth is left – you need very little oil now.
    Kashmiri Khatte Baingan
  • Turn the heat to low or shut it off till you are ready to proceed with the next step.

Prep for a Simple Tadka

  • Now it is time to check the soaked tamarind. Mash it well to make a pulp. After that, strain the pulp into another bowl and keep it ready next to your kadhai. You may add a little more water to the strained pulp to extract more.
    Khatte Baingan Tamarind
  • Next, transfer a tablespoon of saunf or fennel seeds to a mortar pestle and pound to make a coarse powder. Alternatively, you could also just use the fennel seeds as they are, or choose to use it in a powdered form.
    Pounded fennel seeds

Make the Simple Tadka for Kashmiri Khatte Baingan

  • Place the kadhai on low heat. Once hot, tip in the saunf or fennel seed powder. As soon as it blooms and starts changing its colour to brown, add the tamarind pulp.
    Tamarind extract
  • Tip in the fried eggplants next, followed by salt to your taste and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Kashmiri red chilli powder.
  • Next, add around half a cup of water and mix very gently. You don’t want to break the softened eggplants. Once the salt and Kashmiri red chilli powder are incorporated, cover the kadhai with a lid and let the dish bubble away for 5-7 minutes.
    Kashmiri Lal Mirch in Baingan
  • At the half-way mark, check and stir very gently for the appearance of glistening oil on top of the Khatte Baingan. You will need to be very gentle when stirring to avoid breaking the soft baingan. I recommend using a turner to just nudge the dish from the edges.
  • After cooking for 5-7 minutes, the water would have reduced and you will see just a little bit of sauce enveloping the Khatte Baingan.
    Kashmiri Khatte Baingan
  • Serve these saucy Kashmiri style Khatte Baingan with some rice and yogurt or mop them up with some hot parathas!
    Kashmiri Khatte Baingan

Notes

Don’t have Tamarind? Use desi tamatar or Indian tomatoes that are juicier and more sour in taste. Start with the above steps till frying of the eggplants. Then, finely chop 2 medium sized desi tamatar and add them to the tadka after you add the fennel seeds. After that, cook the tomatoes until they are mushy and till you see a bit of oil separate.
Cooking tomatoes benefits from salt, so maybe add a pinch or two. Finally, adjust the salt when you tip in the fried eggplants and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Add water and cook covered for 5-7 minutes, checking at the half way mark.