Monday, May 12, 2014

Baigan Bhaji (Aubergine curry)

Baigan Bhaji

I used to cook this curry using a large aubergine purple aubergine found in supermarkets. However, the aubergine soaks up a lot of oil in the initial stages of cooking. I frequently eat at the Everest Spice, my local Nepalese/Indian restaurant, in Redhill. They serve a dish they call Bhenta Ko Tahkaari which uses small (about 4 cms long) aubergines. I now use whatever variety of small aubergine they have in my local Asian shop.I find they have more flavour and do not soak up as much oil.

Serves 4 as a side dish


500 gm small aubergines, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 or 3 dried chillies
2 heaped tsps garam masala
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing) powder
2 or 3 ripe tomatoes, tomatoes
tomato paste
juice of 1 lime
vegetable oil

Use a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Crumble the chillies into hot oil and fry for 5 min.
Add garam masala.
After 1 min add onions and garlic.
Add asafoetida.
When the onions are translucent, add the aubergines.
Add the tomatoes, a good squeeze of tomato paste, lime juice and salt. Stir well.
If necessary, add just enough water to stop the ingredients catching on the bottom of the pan.
Cover and leave on a low simmer until the aubergines are cooked, about 30 min.

Garam masala Heat a dry pan and dry fry 5 tsps cumin seeds, 3 tsps coriander seeds, 8 cloves, 8 green cardamon pods and 1 brown cardamon pod until they start to brown slightly. Let the seeds cool and then grind them with a 2 cm piece of cinnamon stick and about 1/4 nutmeg. Grind into a powder. I use an old coffee grinder kept just for spices.

Note: The number of dried chillies added depends on how hot the chillies are and how hot you like the dish. I buy a large packet and experiment . Alternatively, you can leave them out and add chilli powder at the onion stage.
At this point, you can also add thinly sliced fresh chillies (red or green). I usually deseed them.

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