One of my blog friends commented on how she likes the small story I have for each of my recipe here and that got me thinking. Most of my best food memories are from my growing up days. There would be absolutely no one in this world who wouldn’t love their mom’s food. While amma’s food and her kitchen are an integral part of my life, I can’t deny that it’s because of her I realized my love for cooking. Anything and everything I prepare would be “very good” to her, even today 🙂 I am a person who can’t let go of the past and that’s why, I am immediately taken back to my childhood days with anything and everything I cook. I hope I don’t bore any of you with my food memories, because that’s the only way I know to relate with my food. Any recipe of mine would become incomplete for me, without those details from my life.
Brinjal was not my favorite vegetable as far as I can remember. We only got the stout round variety in our local markets and somehow they did not appeal me. Amma used to prepare a variety of curries using brinjal– from plain stir-fried brinjal to vankai podi kottina koora to brinjal-onion stir-fry to ullikaram pettina vankai koora to vankai kothimeera karam and the list is endless. May be that is why brinjal is such a popular vegetable in Andhra. I only liked the vankai pacahadi (a kind of brinjal chutney) from all the dishes amma used to prepare using the vegetable and that can have a number of variations too. Even after getting married, I rarely used brinjal – which found its way only into sambar in our house. It all changed one day – As I ran out of vegetables, I had to prepare brinjal-onion stir-fry which was an instant hit with my husband S. The curry was repeated multiple times and the vegetable itself was given another chance.
Bagara Baingan is an authentic recipe of the Hyderabadi cuisine and my latest find – thanks to my amma. Few months back, she prepared this as a side-dish for veg biryani and I instantly loved it. Amma didn’t know the actual name of the dish and we started calling it masala brinjal 😀 Last week while watching a cookery show on TV, I realized amma had been making Bagara Baingan all this while and immediately decided to try it out again. It works well with chapathi, roti, naan or even dosa. We had it with Vegetable Pulav and found it quite tasty. As I am not much of a fan of stout variety of brinjals, I made this curry with the thin, long purple brinjals. The secret to the taste is roasting the brinjals intact with the stem and of course its rich gravy, as always with Hyderabadi cuisine.
What I used –
- Brinjals, 10
- Onion, 2 medium
- Jeera, 1 tbsp
- Coriander Seeds, 1 tbsp
- Sesame Seeds, 1 tbsp
- Dry Coconut/ Fresh Coconut (Grated), 2.5tbsp
- Peanuts, 2 tbsp
- Poppy Seeds, ½ tbsp
- Ginger Garlic Paste, 1 tbsp
- Tamarind Pulp, 1 tbsp
- Red Chilli Powder, 2 tsps
- Jaggery, 1 tbsp
- Turmeric Powder, ½ tsp
- Oil, 2 tbsp + 1 tsp
- Salt, as required
- Water, as required
How I made –
- In a pan, dry roast each of these items separately until sweet aroma arises – Jeera, coriander seeds, sesame seeds, grated coconut, peanuts and poppy seeds. After dry roasting each item, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool completely. (Dry roasting separately is essential as each item has different temperature tolerance and has different cooking times)
- Meanwhile, add 1 tsp of oil to the pan and sauté the onions until translucent. Add it to the dry roasted mixture. Blend into a smooth paste. Keep aside.
- Slit the brinjals into quarters without removing the stem and keep them immersed in a bowl of water. This will help the brinjals from oxidizing.
- In a pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil and shallow roast the brinjals until cooked. You may spot brown patches on the brinjals which means they are roasted well.
- Add the ground paste to the pan, add salt and turmeric. Cook closed on medium flame for 5 mins.
- Make a paste of ginger garlic paste, tamarind pulp, jaggery, red chilli powder and water. Pour it into the cooking gravy. Cook for about 7-10 mins.
- Serve hot with Ghee Rice/Vegetable Pulav/Roti/Naan.
Note: The gravy can splatter while cooking, so exercise caution and cook closed. The gravy also tightens on cooling down, so remove it from heat when it’s not too watery.