Bagara Baingan (Eggplant Curry For Biryani)

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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.

White bowl of bagara brinjal on a white plate on a blue table.

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.

Step-by-Step Guide

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:

Prep Ingredients

1. Rinse 250 grams small-sized baingan (a.k.a. small aubergines or eggplants) 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.

small baingan (eggplants) in a colander under running water.

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 eggplants, 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. Soak the brinjals that are not infested in the salted water.

soaking baingan (brinjal) in salted water.

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
bagara baingan recipe

Roast and Make Masala

4. Heat a frying pan or skillet and keep the flame to a low. Add all of the above spices, nuts and seeds.

Stir and begin to roast them till they become aromatic and light brown.

toasting spices in a dry pan.

5. When the spices become light brown, add 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut to the same pan.

desiccated coconut added to pan with toasted spices.

6. Roast the spices with the coconut. A lovely aroma of roasted spices and coconut will fill your kitchen. Keep stirring non-stop.

making bagara baingan recipe by toasting the spices and coconut.

7. Roast till the coconut becomes light golden. Transfer to a plate and let this mixture cool.

spices are done roasting when the coconut is golden brown.

8. Once the spices, nuts, seeds and coconut mixture cools down, then add this mixture to a grinder or a high-speed blender.

bagara spices added to grinder.

9. Also add the following ingredients (together with the roasted mixture) to the grinder or the high-speed blender:

  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2 teaspoons chopped ginger or 1 inch ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic or 4 to 5 medium-sized garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 green chilies, chopped
  • 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 in the masala paste.

Note: If you prefer your gravy be less sour, add only ½ tablespoon tightly packed tamarind.

fresh aromatics added to grinder with toasted spices.

Cook Eggplant

10. In a pan heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the quartered brinjals.

sautéing quartered brinjal for bagara baingan recipe.

11. Next add salt as required.

salt added to eggplant in pan.

12. Sauté on a low heat for 10 to 12 minutes stirring as needed.

sautéed baingan is lightly golden and slightly shriveled.

13. This is how the brinjal looks after 12 minutes. They should become tender. Use a knife or fork to check for doneness; the knife should slide easily through them.

baingan should be easy to pierce with a knife when it is done cooking.

14. Remove the cooked eggplant and set aside.

cooked brinjal set aside for making bagara baingan recipe.

Make Bagara Baingan

15. In another pan (or in the same pan, if you want to cut down on dishes) heat 2 tablespoons oil.

oil in a pan.

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.

cumin seeds added to pan for tadka.

17. Now add the ground coconut masala paste. Also 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.

coconut-spice masala paste added to pan with turmeric and cumin for preparing bagara baingan recipe.

19. Mix well and begin to sauté the masala paste on low to medium-low heat.

cooking down the masala paste for making bagara baingan recipe.

20. This is how the masala paste looks after sautéing for 10 minutes. As you can see, it has thickened. The oil will also begin to separate.

masala paste has darkened and thickened after cooking.

21. Sauté the paste stirring often until the oil starts to release from the sides of the masala. Sautéing the masala paste takes about a total of 9 to 10 minutes.

preparing bagara baingan recipe - when oil releases from the masala, it is done cooking.

22. Now add 1.5 cups water.

water added to cooked masala paste for preparing the gravy for my bagara baingan recipe.

23. Stir and mix thoroughly.

simmering bagara gravy.

24. Add salt as required.

adding salt to gravy.

25. Add the cooked brinjals to the curry.

cooked baingan added to bagara gravy to make a brinjal curry for biryani.

26. Stir and mix well. Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes more, or till the curry thickens.

simmering brinjal in curry for bagara baingan recipe.

27. You should see some specks of oil floating on the top.

oil floating on the top of bagara baingan in the pan.

28. Check the taste of eggplant curry and add more salt if required. Add 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves. Mix well.

fresh coriander added to finish bagara baingan recipe, brinjal curry for biryani.

29. Serve Bagara Baingan hot with Roti, Paratha, Poori, rice, or, more traditionally, with Hyderabadi Biryani.

You can also pair it with Jeera Rice or Veg Pulao or Ghee Rice.

White bowl of bagara brinjal on a white plate on a blue table.

FAQs

Do I have to cook the baingan separately, or can I just simmer it in the gravy?

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.

Can I use fresh coconut instead of desiccated coconut?

Sure! Use the same amount of fresh coconut, but note that the flavor will be slightly different.

Can I make bagara baingan without nuts?

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.

Can I make my bagara baingan less tangy or sour?

Absolutely. Simply reduce the amount of tamarind used to about ½ tablespoon.

More Brinjal Recipes To Try!

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White bowl of bagara brinjal on a white plate on a blue table.

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 Biryani.
4.75 from 12 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Cuisine Hyderabadi, South Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For sautéing brinjals

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 250 grams brinjals – small-sized

For curry

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder or ½ teaspoon red chilli powder, optional
  • 8 to 9 curry leaves – optional
  • 1.5 cups water or as needed
  • salt as required
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

For masala paste

  • ½ cup onions (chopped) or 1 medium-sized
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (peeled & chopped) or 4 to 5 medium-sized garlic cloves, optional
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (peeled & chopped) or 1 inch ginger
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons raw peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick or 1 inch cassia 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 – optional
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind – tightly packed and seedless
  • 2 to 3 green chillies – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves – chopped (cilantro)
  • ½ to ⅔ cup water or as needed for grinding

Instructions
 

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 and are fragrant, add desiccated coconut.
  • 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.

Cooking brinjal

  • Rinse the brinjals first a few times in water. Quarter them and soak them in salted water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Drain water after 15 to 20 minutes. In a pan heat 2 tablespoons oil and add the chopped eggplants and 1 teaspoon salt. Sauté over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • The brinjals should become fork tender. Set them aside.

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.
    At this step you can opt to add ½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji) and 10 to 12 fenugreek seeds.
  • 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 thoroughly to get an even consistency. Add salt as required and the cooked sautéed eggplants.
  • 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 needed. 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.

Notes

  • Make sure to use smaller variety of brinjals to make Bagara Baingan. You can easily use the small variety of brinjals which has small thorns on the stem. Do not make the recipe with large sized eggplants. 
  • The nuts, seeds and coconut have to be fresh and not rancid. 
  • For a less spicy taste, reduce the number of green chillies and omit adding red chilli powder. 
  • To make a less tangy curry, reduce the amount of tamarind to ½ tablespoon. You could also opt to replace tamarind with 2 medium-sized tomatoes. Note that with tomatoes, the taste will change.

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Bagara Baingan (Eggplant Curry For Biryani)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 218 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Sodium 380mg17%
Potassium 327mg9%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 4g8%
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%
Calcium 99mg10%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 35µg9%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 52mg13%
Phosphorus 95mg10%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Bagara Baingan recipe from the archives first published in April 2011 has been republished and updated on November 2022.

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27 Comments

  1. Great recipe! I spent several years in India and miss the good: your recipes are the closest to what I use to eat there. Thank you for sharing them 🙂5 stars

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