Hyderabadi Baigan 

When memories create meals, they are one of a kind…

  

Many things in life are easy to forget but one seldom forgets a delicious dish. One such dish I found myself recently reminiscing about and relentlessly craving was Hyberabadi Baigan, also known as Bhagare Baigan. An eggplant curry inspired by flavours from Hyderabad, a former princely state in the southern belt of India.

Hyderabadi cuisine has evolved over centuries through local and foreign influences. The key ingredients of Hyderabadi cuisine are coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds. While the cuisine is more meat based, you can also find some real vegetarian gems in the mix.

Here’s my take on this Hyderabadi classic. To be enjoyed with parathas or rice,  every mouthful is lip smackingly delicious.

  

Ingredients: 15  Cooking time:  45 minutes

Serves: 6

  • 1.5 dozen of baby eggplants, quartered and soaking in water 
  • One medium-sized onion, sliced
  • Two medium tomatoes, quartered 
  • 200 gms of peanuts, roasted
  • 400 ml of coconut milk 
  • Six to eight curry leaves
  • One lemon sized tamarind ball or juice of one lemon
  • One bay large bay leaf
  • One teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Half teaspoon chilli powder 
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Three tablespoons of mustard oil
  • Vegetable oil for pan frying the eggplants.
  • Salt to season 
  • One teaspoon sugar

For tempering (optional)

  • One tablespoon of ghee
  • One teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Six to eight curry leaves

Begin by pan frying the quartered eggplants until they slightly change colour and are soft. Keep aside.

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To make the sauce, heat oil in a kadahi or a heavy based pot. If you can’t find mustard oil you can use vegetable oil, ghee or olive oil.

Once the oil is aromatic add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry leaves. When the spices splutter and are aromatic add sliced onions. Cook until onions are slightly caramelised.

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Now add roasted peanuts and mix well. Cook onion and peanuts for about five to seven minutes. Then add the tomatoes and dried spices. Mix well. 

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While the tomatoes soften, soak the tamarind ball in quarter cup hot water. Once soft squeeze the pulp and strain the juice. If you don’t have tamarind you can also use juice of one lemon. Add the tamarind  juice, one teaspoon of sugar and two cups of water to the tomato mix. 

Give the ingredients a good stir. Once it comes to a boil turn the gas off and let the gravy cool. Then blend until smooth. Finally add coconut milk to the gravy, season with salt and cover the pot and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes on a low heat.

  
Now the gravy is ready for the eggplants. Drop eggplants gently into the gravy. Let the gravy simmer again for 10 to 15 minutes so the eggplants soak in all the flavour.

 

Last step is to add the tadka or temper the gravy with aromatic flavours of mustard seeds and curry leaves. Heat ghee in a skillet. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once they splutter and are aromatic add to the curry and mix well to infuse the flavours.

Your lip smackingly delicious Hyderabadi Baigan are ready to be served. 

  

Eggplant Schnitzel with White Bean Mash

Being a vegetarian has never been easier…

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Schnitzel and I go back eight years ago. The first time I met my mother in law which also happens to be eight years ago, she had invited me to dinner. My husband had obviously forgotten to mention I was a vegetarian.

So there we were sitting on the table, delicious aromas permeating through the house and my stomach rumbling, waiting to devour a warm home cooked meal. Until I found out we were having chicken schnitzel and mash. Fearing that I would come across as high maintenance if I said I was vegetarian, I decided to eat the meal without saying a word. After all nothing pleases a cook more than to see an all clean after dinner plate. 

Eight years hence I can’t say I love chicken  but I definitely love schnitzels, especially vegetarian schnitzels. These eggplant schnitzels are just amazing. Light, crisp and succulent. Moreover no animal was killed or injured in the making of this dish.

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Ingredients: 22   Serves: 4

Cooking time: 20 minutes

For Schnitzels

  • Two medium sized eggplants
  • One cup of plain flour
  • Three eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • Two cups of bread crumbs
  • One teaspoon oregano
  • One teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt to season
  • Oil for pan frying

For White bean mash

  • 400 gms of butter beans
  • Two pods of garlic, minced
  • 100 gms of parsley, finely chopped
  • 100 gms of basil, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Two teaspoons of cracked pepper
  • Salt to season 

For Spicy aioli

  • Two tablespoons of natural Greek yogurt
  • One tablespoon of siracha sauce or hot chilli sauce
  • One teaspoon of dried mint leaves
  • Half a teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt to season 

Prepare the eggplant by slicing it lengthwise down the middle. Then cut quarter inch slices and keep aside. 

Place flour, whisked eggs with milk and salt and breadcrumbs with oregano and paprika in separate bowls. Coat the eggplant slices invidiually with flour, dip in egg wash and finally crumb them evenly. The schnitzels are ready to be fried. If you are vegan you can make a temupra batter with flour and water and then crumb the schnitzels.

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Heat one tablespoon EVOO in another pan. Add garlic, parsley and basil. Stir until aromatic. Now add butter beans and mix well, cook for seven to ten minutes on a low heat. Then add lemon juice, pepper and season with salt. Mash the beans until creamy. Finally add the remaining EVOO and mix well. Your white bean mash is ready to serve. If you can’t get your hand on butter beans, you can use black eyed beans.


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In another pan heat oil in a pan to fry the schnitzels. Fry the eggplant schnitzels on both sides until crispy.

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Finally for the aioli, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Stir well.

Now it’s time to bring this sensational dish together. Place a spoonful of mash on a plate. Place the schnitzels on top and  finally top it up with the delicious aioli. Your lip smackingly delicious eggplant schnitzels are ready to serve.

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