Bagara Baingan is a flavorful, tasty curry made with small eggplants in a tangy, creamy gravy made with coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds, tamarind, and Indian spices. This vegan and gluten-free eggplant dish is a specialty of Hyderabadi cuisine and is often served with any number of different biryani recipes.
About Bagara Baingan
Bagara is the Hyderabadi word for tempering or “tadka,” which is simply blooming spices in hot oil. While Baingan is the Hindi word for brinjal (a.k.a. aubergine or eggplant). As such, Bagara Baingan roughly translates to “eggplant that is tempered.”
This popular vegetarian recipe from the Hyderabadi cuisine is often made to serve as a side dish with Biryani, Roti, or even plain rice. This Hyderabadi Bagara Baingan recipe has 3 of my favorite ingredients in them: coconut, sesame seeds, and peanuts.
To make this preparation, roasted spices, nuts and seeds are ground to a creamy fine consistency which is then cooked further with sautéed eggplants.
This recipe is adapted from Chandra Padmanabhan’s cookbook Simply South: Traditional Vegetarian Cooking. This book has many good recipes including varieties of sambar, rasam, vegetables and rice recipes.
India is a country with multiple cuisines that are separated by regional differences in climate, topography, as well as cultures and traditions.
We all know that the North Indian cuisine is different from South Indian cuisine, but even the cuisines of the different parts of a region can vary widely, like how the cuisine of Karnataka is different from Kerala cuisine.
Differences in culinary traditions can even vary amongst the same state, like Andhra Pradesh which has both the Andhra Cuisine and the Hyderabadi Cuisine, which are totally different from one another.
Thanks to the Nizams of Hyderabad who invented the rich and elaborate Hyderabadi cuisine, this style of cooking is very popular both within India as well as in the world at large. The Bagara Baingan recipe is one such gem from this cuisine.
How to Make Bagara Baingan
As you can imagine, a dish like Bagara Baingan needs some prep work to get a few elements ready before you finally assemble them all. I’m sure you’ll be able to master the recipe, especially if you follow along with my step-by-step instructions and photos below. Here’s how it’s done:
1. Rinse 250 grams small-sized baingan (a.k.a. small aubergines or brinjal) 2 to 3 times in water. Drain the water.
Ensure to make the recipe with only the smaller variety of eggplants. Larger-sized eggplants that we use to make baingan bharta or baba ganoush, do not work well in this recipe.
2. Quarter the brinjals and soak them in salted water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain after 15 to 20 minutes, discarding the salted water.
Soaking them in salted water gets rid of any bitterness and also prevents discoloration.
I usually chop the brinjals, but you can keep them whole (with the stems) – cut them on four sides from the base till you reach the top part. Pull apart the cut sides and check for worms or any insects.
3. Meanwhile, measure out the following spices and set them aside:
- 2 tablespoons raw peanuts
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds – skip if you do not have
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 to 3 cloves
- 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
- 1 black cardamom
Roast and Make Masala
4. Heat a frying pan or skillet and keep the flame to a low. Add all of the above spices and seeds.
Stir and begin to roast them till they become aromatic and light brown.
5. When the spices become light brown, add 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut to the same pan.
6. Roast the spices with the coconut. A lovely aroma of roasted spices and coconut will fill your kitchen. Keep stirring non-stop.
7. Roast till the coconut becomes light golden.
8. Once the spices, seeds and coconut mixture cools down, then add this mixture to a grinder or a high-speed blender.
9. Also add the following ingredients to the grinder or the high-speed blender:
- 1 medium-large onion (or about ½ cup chopped onion)
- 1 inch chopped ginger, 4 to 5 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 to 3 chopped green chilies
- 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
- 1 tablespoon tightly packed seedless tamarind
Grind to a fine and smooth paste with ½ to ⅔ cup water. Ensure that there are no chunks of any of the ingredients.
Note: If you prefer your gravy be less sour, add only ½ tablespoon tightly packed tamarind.
10. In a pan heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the quartered brinjal.
11. Next add salt as required.
12. Sauté on a low heat for 10 to 12 minutes stirring as needed.
13. This is how the brinjal looks after 12 minutes. They should become tender. Use a knife to check for doneness; the knife should slide easily through them.
14. Remove the cooked eggplant and set aside.
Make Bagara Baingan
15. In another pan (or in the same pan, if you want to cut down on dishes) heat 2 tablespoons oil.
16. Lower the heat. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let them splutter.
At this point you can also add ½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji) and 10 to 12 fenugreek seeds.
17. Now add the ground coconut masala paste. Also add Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder or ½ teaspoon red chilli powder and 8 to 9 curry leaves.
Note that the adding red chilli powder and curry leaves are optional.
19. Mix well and begin to sauté the masala paste on low to medium-low heat.
20. This is how the masala paste looks after sautéing for 10 minutes. As you can see, it thickened. The oil will also begin to separate.
21. Sauté the paste stirring often until the oil starts to release from the sides of the masala, about a total of 9 to 10 minutes.
22. Now add 1.5 cups water.
23. Stir and mix thoroughly.
24. Add salt as required.
25. Add the cooked brinjals to the curry.
26. Stir and mix well. Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes more, or till the gravy thickens.
27. You should see some specks of oil floating on the top.
28. Check the taste of brinjal curry and add more salt if required. Add 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.
You are welcome to skip the step of sautéing the eggplant separately, and instead simmer it in the gravy. However, please note that the brinjals will need time to cook all the way through, so you should add more water to the gravy if you plan on cooking it this way.
Add the brinjals to the gravy, cover, and cook until knife-tender. Be sure to stir every 3 to 4 minutes to keep the masala from sticking to the pan and burning.
Sure! Use the same amount of fresh coconut, but note that the flavor will be slightly different.
Unfortunately, peanuts are an essential piece of this recipe. If you must, you can swap peanuts for raw cashews, but the flavor will be different.
Absolutely. Simply reduce the amount of tamarind used to about ½ tablespoon.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Bagara Baingan (Eggplant Curry For Biryani)
Bagara Baingan is a flavorful, tasty curry made with small aubergines in a medley of coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds, tamarind and spices. This vegan and gluten-free eggplant dish is a specialty of Hyderabadi cuisine and is often served with any number of different biryani recipes.
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
For sautéing brinjals
For masala paste
Making masala paste
Heat a frying pan or skillet or tawa and roast the following ingredients on low to medium-low heat – peanuts, white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, tej patta, black peppercorns, caraway seeds and black cardamom.
When the spices become a light brown, add dessicated coconut to it.
Mix and continue to roast the spices with the coconut. A lovely aroma of the roasted spices and coconut will fill your kitchen.
Roast till the coconut gets light golden.
Transfer to a plate and let the mixture cool.
Once the spices + seeds + coconut mixture cools, add it to a high-speed blender or grinder. Also add chopped onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies, coriander leaves and tamarind .
Grind to a fine and smooth paste with ½ to ⅔ cups of water.
Rinse the brinjals first a few times in water. Quarter them and soak them in salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.
Drain after 15 to 20 minutes. In a pan heat 2 tablespoons oil and add the chopped brinjals and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
The brinjals should become tender. Set them aside when fork tender.
Making bagara baingan
In another pan or in the same pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
Add the ground masala paste. Also add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and curry leaves.
Mix thoroughly and sauté the masala.
Saute the paste stirring often for about 9 to 10 minutes or till the oil starts to release from the sides.
Next add 1.5 cups water. Mix well and then add the cooked brinjals.
Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes or till the curry thickens and you see oil floating on top.
Check the taste of the curry and add more salt if required. Add coriander leaves and mix well.
Serve Bagara Baingan hot with roti, phulka, paratha, poori or rice or biryani. This brinjal curry pairs very well as a side dish with biryani.
Bagara Baingan (Eggplant Curry For Biryani)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 218 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Vitamin A 50IU1%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2mg10%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 7mg8%
Vitamin E 5mg33%
Vitamin K 5µg5%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 35µg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This Bagara Baingan recipe from the archives first published in April 2011 has been republished and updated on November 2022.Source: Dassana’s Veg Recipes