India: Bagara Baingan

My entry into Indian cooking really began with Rick Stein’s book ‘Rick Stein’s India‘, after watching the series and deciding that I wanted to try and make some of the dishes. The recipes were clear, and the results have been great more or less every time. A favourite has to be chana masala (a chickpea curry) – I never thought one of my favourite foods would be a tomato and chickpea dish. But anyway, I’ve now cooked so many of the recipes from there that I wanted to try something different. I first discovered what Bagara Baingan was after visiting Exotic Dining restaurant in Kettering, my home town. We met a friend there for dinner a couple of years ago and the food was wonderful – of all the years I lived in the that town I hadn’t even realised the restaurant was there, and the sign outside really doesn’t do the food justice. My usual dish until recently would have been the murgh methi, a chicken based dish, but for some reason I decided to order something from the vegetarian section – Hyderabadi Bagara Baignan. According to saffron streaksBagara means tempering the oil with spices, a traditional Indian practice of cooking to enhance the aroma of a dish. The recipe uses the small types of aubergines (brinjal) that you should be able to find in larger supermarkets or if you live in a city like Coventry, the central market should have them (once again Coventry market has been my first port of call for getting ingredients I need for my year of global cooking). There are lots of different versions of the recipe available online and I have decided to go for an adapted version of the recipe from the blog Edible Garden. Already this year, by looking for cooking inspiration I have found so many great cooking blogs – I should compile a list at some point.
 Bagara Baingan 
(Serves two people)
 Ingredients:
  • 6 baby aubergines
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp peanuts (red skinned)
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 dried kashmiri chilli (finely chopped)
  • A small lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt

bagara baingan

Method
  1. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds separately until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Then, blend together with the coconut and little water to form a smooth paste.
  2. Extract the tamarind paste in 1 cup warm water. Grind the ginger and garlic (or mash in a pestle and mortar).
  3. Fry the aubergines in 1 tbsp of oil until soft but still hold their shape (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  4. In the same oil, fry the onions and ginger garlic paste until golden. Then add the ground paste and fry for a minute.
  5. To this, add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well and fry for another minute.
  6. Add the tamarind water, mix, then add the aubergines and cook closed for 5-10 mins.

It’s usually served with roti or rice, but we had it with naan bread. If you have any fresh coriander you could sprinkle some of that on top too.

So that’s India marked on the map for this week’s cooking adventures.
bagara baingan
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