Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan is made by cooking baby eggplant in a curry made with sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut. It is a delicious salan style eggplant curry that goes with biryani.
This dish is a delicious, aromatic eggplant curry that has origins in Hyderabadi cuisine. Bagare baingan is traditionally served with Biryani, biryani, pulao, or even paratha or naan. It is also known as Baingan ka Salan in Hyderabadi cuisine.
In this recipe for Bagara Baingan, baby eggplants are first sauteed in oil until they are semi-cooked. Then a curry is made with a few characteristic ingredients – peanuts, coconut, sesame seeds, tamarind, and sometimes, poppy seeds are added as well. The baby eggplant is cooked in this curry until it becomes soft, and the curry has thickened. The result is a rich, delicious dish with complex flavors.
Bagare Baingan and Gutti Venkaya
Baghara baingan is a popular dish in Hyderabadi cuisine. With its origins in Mughal cuisine, this dish is a rich curry that is commonly served as a side for rice dishes such as pulao or Hyderabadi biryani. Its richness and taste make it a popular dish for Hyderabadi weddings and feasts.
The word baghar refers to tempering, and the word baingan refers to eggplant. Because of its tangy, slightly sweet taste, it is also called as ‘Hyderabadi khatte baingan’.
Hyderabadi baghare baingan is very similar to ‘Gutti Venkaya’ which is a stuffed baby brinjal dish made with a similar spice mix. Gutti Venkaya is a Telangana dish made with baby eggplant, in which the eggplant is first stuffed with the spice mix and then fried, and then simmered in a curry. This method of preparation is slightly different from Bagare Baingan – where the eggplant is not stuffed but simmered in the spiced curry.
Why this recipe works
- Authentic Salan style eggplant curry with origins in Hyderabadi cuisine
- Freshly ground masalas add to the rich, unique taste
- Perfect side dish for an Indian menu – pairs well with Hyderabadi Biryani or Plain rice or Naan
Ingredients and Substitutions
Baby eggplant - Look for these baby aubergine/ eggplant/ brinjals at your local Asian or Indian grocers.
Coconut - Use fresh or frozen coconut - grated or thinly sliced. If you cant get fresh or frozen coconut, desiccated coconut is a good substitute.
Sesame Seeds - White sesame seeds, aka 'til' seeds are a key ingredient for the eggplant curry.
Poppy Seeds - This is an optional ingredient, but definitely recommended as a thickener for the curry
Whole Spices - Whole cumin and whole mustard seeds, along with curry leaves are added for flavor
Spice powders - Kashmiri Red Chili Powder, Coriander Powder, turmeric are used for the spice base
Tamarind - Adds a tangy taste that improves the flavor of the curry. I used dried tamarind, soaked in hot water to make tamarind water for the curry. You can also use store-bought tamarind paste.
Jaggery - This balances out the tang and spices. Use powdered jaggery or chop up jaggery cubes and add to the curry.
Oil - I recommend using peanut oil or sesame oil for this eggplant curry, but vegetable oil is a good option too.
Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
To make Bagare Baingan, start by making the eggplant curry paste. For the paste, you will need coconut (grated or thinly sliced), peanuts (I have used salted peanuts), sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coriander powder, red chili powder, and turmeric powder.
Start by dry roasting the coconut in a saucepan, until the coconut turns light brown in color. Once browned, keep aside. Then roast the sesame seeds, peanuts, poppy seeds until the sesame seeds start to brown. Transfer all the roasted ingredients along with coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder to a spice grinder or blender jar. Add a few tablespoons of water and blend to form a thick paste (see image below).
Keep this paste aside to be used later.
Now, prepare the baby eggplant by washing and rinsing them, and cutting two slits into each brinjal as you can see in the image. Slitting them like this will help the baby eggplant cook faster and soak up the spices from the curry.
In a frying pan, add peanut oil (or vegetable oil) and heat the oil. Once hot, add the baby eggplants and fry on medium heat as seen below.
Fry for 15-17 minutes, flipping the eggplant in intervals so that it cooks evenly on all sides. The eggplant is cooked once it is soft and the skin is loose. Keep the cooked baby eggplants aside.
Now prep the ingredients for the eggplant curry. Finely chop up 1 red onion, ginger, and garlic.
In a small bowl, add tamarind and cover it with hot water. Let it sit for 5- 10 minutes. The tamarind water will be used in the curry.
In a wok or kadai, heat some peanut (or vegetable) oil. Once hot, add cumin, mustard seeds (I ran out of mustard seeds, and couldn't use them while photographing this recipe, but I definitely recommend that you use them!), chopped up onion, and minced or grated ginger and garlic (or use ginger garlic paste). Saute until the onion is translucent.
Add the curry leaves, saute for a minute.
Add the curry paste that was prepared earlier, and tamarind water. Mix well.
Add the jaggery powder, salt to season and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Once it starts to shimmer, add the sauteed baby eggplant and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
Once the curry is thickened and eggplants are soft, turn off the heat. Baghara Baingan is now ready to be served as a side with biryani or with roti or naan.
Make sure you look for baby eggplant – the round, bright purple aubergine or eggplant is commonly available at all Indian grocers. You can substitute it with regular eggplant, but for the authentic experience, look for baby eggplants!
Make the Bagara Baingan masala paste from scratch – This recipe calls for a masala paste that is made from scratch. The peanuts, sesame, coconut are roasted together and then ground to a paste. The spices are also whole roasted and then powdered. The use of this freshly-made spice blend will make a big difference to the flavor.
Fresh coconut can be replaced with dry or desiccated coconut or even frozen coconut.
For a quick substitute, you can replace sesame seeds with tahini paste and peanuts with peanut butter. However, for the authentic taste, I recommend roasting the peanuts and sesame seeds as instructed in the recipe.
This 'salan' style brinjal curry is best served as a side with steamed white rice and also pairs perfectly well with biryani. Here are some biryani recipes that go well with Bagare Baingan:
Hyderabadi Dum Chicken Biryani
You could also serve bagara baingan with Naan or Indian Rotis.
Storing & Freezing Instructions
Baghara baingan is a good recipe for making ahead. I like to make the dish a day ahead if possible – the flavors develop over a day and the dish tastes better the day after it is made. You can make the gravy (curry) for Baghare Baingan a day ahead, and store it in the fridge. On the day of serving the dish, simply saute the brinjals and simmer in the prepared curry before serving.
It can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, because of the coconut used in this recipe, I recommend not to keep it beyond 4-5 days.
Salan style bagare baingan can also be frozen and stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Ensure that you bring the curry to room temperature before you freeze it.
Frequently Asked Questions
The word Bagar, means 'tempering', but it can also refer to a popular Hyderabadi rice dish that is seasoned with spices.
To make this brinjal curry, we use baby eggplant (baby brinjal). To preserve the shape of the baby eggplant, we make deep slits into the eggplant, while keeping its stem intact. Cutting deep slits into the brinjal will help it cook faster and absorb the masala from the gravy.
Baby eggplant is not bitter, however, if you do not like the taste of baby eggplant, you can cut it, sprinkly salt over it and leave it for an hour so that the moisture drains out. This will help reduce the bitter-taste if any.
More Indian Recipes
Bagara Baingan | Indian Eggplant Curry Recipe
- Kadai / Wok
- Frying pan
- 10-12 Baby Eggplant baby aubergine / baby brinjal
For the Masala Paste
- ⅓ cup Coconut Grated or Sliced (see notes)
- 2 tbsp White Sesame Seeds
- ⅓ cup Peanuts Salted (if using unsalted see notes)
- 1 tbsp Poppy seeds (khus khus)
- ¾ tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
For the Curry
- 2 tbsp Peanut oil or Sesame Oil
- 1 Onion
- ¾ tsp Whole Cumin
- ¾ tsp Whole Mustard Seeds
- 8-10 curry leaves 1 spring
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 1 inch Ginger
- ¼ cup Tamarind
- 2 tbsp Jaggery powder
- Salt to taste
- Start by making the eggplant curry paste. Dry roast the coconut in a frying pan, until the coconut turns light brown in color. Once coconut is light brown, keep aside. In the same pan, roast the sesame seeds, peanuts, poppy seeds until the sesame seeds start to brown (do not over-heat them). Transfer all the roasted ingredients along with coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder to a spice grinder or blender jar. Add a few tablespoons of water and blend to form a thick paste.
- Keep this paste aside to be used later.
- Wash and rinse the baby eggplant, cut slits into each brinjal, as seen in the step by step instructions above.
- In the same frying pan, add peanut or sesame oil and heat on medium. Once hot, add the baby eggplants and fry on medium heat. Fry for 15-17 minutes, flipping the eggplant in intervals, so that it cooks evenly on all sides. Once the baby eggplants are soft and the skin is loose, turn off the heat and keep them aside.
- In a small bowl, add tamarind and cover it with hot water. Let it sit for 5- 10 minutes. Squeeze out the tamarind to extract its juices and keep this tamarind water aside.
- In a wok or kadai, heat some peanut or sesame oil. Once hot, add cumin, mustard seeds, chopped up onion, and minced or grated ginger and garlic (or use ginger garlic paste). Saute until the onion is translucent.
- Add the curry leaves, sauté for a minute.
- Add the curry paste that was prepared earlier, along with tamarind water. Mix well.
- Add the jaggery powder, salt to season and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Once it starts to simmer, add the sauteed baby eggplant and simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- Once the curry is thickened and eggplants are soft, turn off the heat. Baghara Baingan is now ready to be served as a side with biryani or with roti or naan.