Lazy Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan
Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan is one of the most popular Indian vegetarian dishes and rightfully so -- its rich flavor is attained through a combination of ingredients traditionally known to be expensive and therefore, reserved for the privileged. Its versatility makes it a staple in many households today; it is just as delicious with various types of bread as it is with rice.
Moving out of my parents’ home encouraged me to experiment in the kitchen with ingredients my mother never uses, but more importantly, to develop faster and easier ways to make the same dishes she would (get on my level of laziness, mama). You may be concerned at how proud I am of the fact that I have simplified a traditional recipe that is often considered a jewel in the crown of Hyderabadi cuisine, but fear not! Who says the flavor was compromised?
2 pounds of eggplant wedges, about 2-inches in length
1 red onion, diced
1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
½ cup water
1 cup all natural creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon coriander powder
A pinch of cumin powder
1 tablespoon coconut powder (optional: toast till lightly browned)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (optional: toast till lightly browned)
2 teaspoons salt
¾ cup chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 400F.
Toss the eggplant wedges in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt.
Bake for 15 minutes. The eggplant will be mostly cooked, but not all the way.
In the meantime, heat the remaining oil in a pan and sauté the onions till translucent.
Combine all other ingredients except for cilantro in a bowl until even throughout.
Add the creamy peanut butter and the baked eggplant wedges to the pan and cook for 4 minutes on medium heat.
Mix in half the cilantro before removing from heat. Use the other half as a garnish before serving.
Serve with a grain such as white rice, brown rice, quinoa, etc. or with bread like naan or pita.
This recipe is vegetarian and vegan!
If using natural tamarind, soak a 2-inch piece in hot water for 2 minutes and extract the pulp. Reduce the amount of water used in the recipe to ½ cup.
It is important to use all natural peanut butter because the usual additives like sugar will significantly alter the taste.
It is also important to use creamy peanut butter, as the crunchy type tends to alter cook time, and doesn’t hold true to the original texture of this dish.
The original recipe takes close to an hour, while this version takes 30 minutes or less. Baking the eggplant and using peanut butter are the largest time savers.