Baghaar-e-Baingan: Hyderabadi Spiced and Stuffed Eggplants
Baghaar-e-Baingan are a quintessential Hyderabadi dish. Cooked twice and simmered in a rich and deeply flavored sauce, it is absolutely delicious.
Servings: 6 people
For the stuffing
- 1 tbsp Til/Sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp Moongphali/Peanuts
- 2 tbsp Nariyal/Coconut freshly grated or frozen or dry desiccated
- 1 tbsp Parched Gram/Punala Pappu or gram flour or chickpea flour
- 2 tsp Khas Khas/Poppy seeds soaked
- 1 tsp Dhania/Coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp Hara Dhania/Fresh Coriander about 1 sprig
- 1 tsp Haldi/Turmeric powder
- 1 to 1.5 tsp Namak/Salt
- 1 tsp Laal Mirch/Chilli powder
Baghaar or tempering
- 3 tbsp Groundnut Oil or any cooking oil
- 1/2 tsp Rai/Black Mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp Jeera/Cuming seeds
- 1/2 tsp Methi/Fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp Kalonji/Nigella seeds
- 10 to 12 Kari Patta/Curry Leaves
For the sauce
- 1 or 1/2 Onion chopped
- 1/2 tbsp Ginger paste or grated
- 1/2 tbsp Garlic paste or grated
- 3-4 Kashmiri Laal Mirch/Red Chillies whole, soaked in water
- 1 tbsp Tamarind paste or a golf ball sized portion of tamarind soaked to make pulp
- 1/2 tsp Laal Mirch/Red Chili powder adjust to taste
- 1 tbsp Molasses or Jaggery
- All the leftover stuffing mix
- 1 cup Water more as needed
- Salt as needed
Prepare eggplants and soak chillies
Make the stuffing
Roast the first four ingredients for the stuffing i.e. up to parched gram. Roast until fragrant and just starting to turn golden. Do not brown. If you plan on using poppy seeds, soak them in water until ready to pulse into a paste.
Next, put all the roasted ingredients, soaked poppy seeds, and the remaining ingredient from the list into a blender/processor. Pulse until you get a fine paste.
Make the baghaar/bagar
In a large, heavy bottomed frying pan or kadhai heat up oil. To it add all ingredients listed under baghaar above. Sauté for a few minutes ~ 2, until fragrant. Then add eggplants to the pan and shallow fry until the skins start to brown. Remove from the pan and rest until later. Keep any remaining baghaar left in the pan. We’ll use it next.
Make the sauce
In the pan just used to fry eggplants, add chopped onions. Use oil leftover from making the baghaar. Sauté until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Add ginger and garlic paste and stir for a minute.
Remove from heat, cool, then transfer into the jar of a blender or food processor. Add all the other ingredients except jaggery and blend adding water as needed to get it going. Finally, add any leftover stuffing from earlier and give it a stir to combine well. Do not wash the pan that was just used. It will be used to assemble baghaar-e-baingan.
Put the frying pan or kadhai back on the stove at medium heat. Pour in the recently ground ingredients. Add jaggery and water. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Check for salt and adjust if necessary. Finally, place previously fried eggplants in the pan and simmer covered for a few more minutes. Check again for seasonings and adjust as needed. See note below.
After a gentle simmer Baghaar-e-Baingan is ready to be served! Enjoy with freshly made long grain rice or warm chapatis.
A note about parched gram:
Known as putnala pappu in Telugu, our cooks would often just say “pu-dana dal”. I suppose an abbreviated name easy for us northerners to grasp. If you do not have parched gram, i.e. bengal gram that has been roasted, use gram or chickpea flour instead.
You can skip frying eggplants:
I do recall eggplants being cooked only once the gravy was ready, such that they would simmer in it instead of being sautéed ahead of time. That is one way to go. You could skip frying eggplants and instead proceed to cook onions to make the gravy.
A note on sauce ingredients:
- I used kashmiri red chillies whole, with the seeds. They will soften in water. Remove from water, break off the stem if still attached. If you want you could cut the chillies open and wash away the seeds. Since this is a mild pepper the seeds do not add too much heat.
- I used tamarind paste instead of soaking a ball of tamarind. If you soak tamarind, squish out as much pulp as you can, throw away any seeds, covering and string like strands common in the fruit.
- I did not have molasses. Instead I used jaggery which I added to the gravy later while it simmered on the stove.
Note about taste profile:
I like my bagare baingan to have the warming notes of peanuts, sesame and coconut. But sometimes it's also nice to have a sour-sweet sauce. Additional tamarind with a little more jaggery usually sorts that out!
A final bagar?
Some people finish off the dish with a final tempering or bagar of curry leaves and even chillies. I did not do that. I prefer the smooth sauce as is. But this is an option.