This eggplant curry recipe (Bagara Bingan) is delicious!
But I will skip my usual adoration of this vegetable, as I have shared this in other recipes, such as my Vegan Caponata (another great way of using eggplant).
This eggplant recipe is of a typical South Indian dish, mainly served in Hyderabad as a side; the most important part of it is the use of homemade masala (spice mix) which is extremely easy in this case, as I will explain it step by step.
You should not rush while roasting the spices, nuts, and coconut, as the result would not be the same… and you need to show yourself some love by preparing this exactly the right way. It may sound like a long procedure, but it is not!
Once the base masalas are ready and your pieces of eggplant oven-roasted, you are in for a treat with this baingan recipe!
But first, let’s talk nutrition:
Eggplant is an excellent choice of vegetable when it comes to any diet, as it is rich in dietary fiber; in addition, they are also a great source of Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, and Potassium, as well as minerals, like copper, manganese, and magnesium.
In this curry, there is also coconut, which gives it that rich – typical of Southern India – taste. It is very high in calories, therefore it should be consumed in moderation (like most foods!), but it is extremely nutritious and its health benefits should not be ignored. The pulp, or meat, of coconut contains fiber, proteins as well as minerals, such as copper, magnesium, manganese, and iron.
To make the sauce richer, I have also used a mix of equal parts peanuts, almonds, and cashews, which are all high in calories but – like coconut – have multiple nutritional benefits.
Peanuts are a great source of fiber, proteins, and fats; they are also rich in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and various B Vitamins, and are low in carbohydrates.
Almonds just like peanuts contain a good mix of fiber, proteins, fats, and magnesium; they are rich in Vitamin E and amongst the health benefits studies have shown are the ability to reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It is claimed that almonds also may reduce hunger, promoting weight loss.
Cashews are also rich in fiber, but very low in sugars! They have fats that promote heart health and are rich in proteins; amongst others, they contain magnesium, manganese, and copper, which promote brain and bone health.
As mentioned before, like all nuts, they are extremely high in calories, so it is excellent to rip their benefits in moderation.
The best weight-loss is the one where we enjoy life and practice moderation… because we can – and will – have it all!
You will love this recipe because…
Although it sounds like it will take forever, it won’t! While roasting your eggplant pieces, you will slow roast the spices in a pan, preparing the sauce.
It is a very photogenic dish! If you have guests over, keep some of the crispier eggplant pieces on the side after roasting, and sprinkle them on top of the curry just before serving, with some coriander… you will have this glorious deep-colored curry, topped with roasted baingan and sprinkled with colorful green coriander – what a beauty!
What can I serve this dish with?
Anything! I like to serve it with some plain boiled rice, as its flavor is rich already, but if I am low on calories left, then I may serve it with some cauliflower. Other excellent options are most traditional Indian breads, such as chapattis, rotis, parathas or dare a very non traditional combination with some bhature!
Can I freeze this curry?
Yes, you surely can! Ensure it is fully cooled down before doing so.
Can I use other types of eggplant?
Baingan. Brinjal. Aubergine. Eggplant. Melanzane. (All the languages I know its name!) Yes, you can! I was lucky enough that they had baby eggplant in the shop when I went looking for them, but if you can replace these with any eggplant types you find.
What if I can’t find fresh coconut?
If you’re cooking this recipe in a cold country, you probably won’t have easy access to fresh coconut unless you’re happy to pay for it its weight in gold, but not to worry! Your local Indian shop will most probably offer fresh-frozen grated coconut, which will do the trick (I know because I use it!).
Do I need to use peanuts, almonds and cashews all together?
Not necessarily; for two people, as the recipe below, I use 10g of nuts, to get full advantage of the nutritional benefits they have, but without increasing the calorie count too much. As long as you add 10g in total, you can use these three in any proportion you like, even only one kind.
I know this will be one of the best – if not the best – eggplant curry you’ll have for a long time! I also make the mistake of ordering it in restaurants and 99% of the time I am disappointed, as the vegetables are not properly cooked, have a weird consistency, or the curry is simply tasteless. Fear not! This will not be the case this time!
You will love this dish and you will prepare it multiple times, as it is not only tasty and easy to prepare, it is also healthy!
- 3 Baby Eggplants about 150g
- 10-15 Sprays Cooking Spray
- 1 tsp Sunflower Oil
- ½ tsp Methi Seeds Fenugreek
- 10 Curry Leaves
- ½ tsp Mustard Seeds black or brown
- 1 tsp Tamarind Sauce or Paste
- ¼ tsp Cracked Black Pepper only if using tamarind paste
- 1 tsp Jaggery or brown sugar
- 1 tsp Red Chili Powder or 1tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- Salt to Taste
- 10 g Fresh Coriander Chopped
For the masala paste:
- 1 Medium Onion Chopped (about 140g)
- 5 g Fresh Ginger Chopped
- 5 g Garlic Cloves Chopped
- 30 g Freshly Grated Coconut or Fresh Frozen Grated Coconut
- 5 Peanuts
- 3 Cashews
- 2 g Almonds I had them flaked
- 2 tbsp Black Sesame Seeds
- 1 tsp Poppy Seeds
- 1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 6 Dry Red Chilies
- Preheat the static oven to 200 degrees Celsius, 400 Fahrenheit, Gas 6.
- Wash and chop the eggplant into bitesize pieces, then lay these on a baking tray that has been covered in greaseproof baking paper and cover them with the cooking spray. Once the oven is ready, roast on the middle tray until cooked thoroughly. It took me about 10 minutes, but it will depend on the size of the chunks of eggplant and the oven. You can start preparing the masala meanwhile, but as soon as they are ready, remove the eggplant bites from the oven, as if you over-roast them, they will go dry.
- Start preparing the masalas: this will happen in a very methodical way, the ingredients will be of about the same size and consistency, and it will be done in a nonstick frying pan. See which items to roast together for the best result:
- In the frying pan, dry roast the coconut on its own, until golden brown, then remove and set aside.
- Using the same frying pan, dry roast the ginger, garlic, and onion for about four to five minutes, until they are all golden brown and the rawness of the garlic has gone. You can set this aside with the coconut.
- Again, in the same pan, dry roast the peanuts, almonds, cashews, sesame and poppy seeds, coriander seeds, and dry red chilies. This will take not more than three minutes, as you want them to become fragrant without burning, and there is a very fine line. Set aside with the other dry-roasted ingredients.
- Now, finely grind all of the roasted ingredients to create the masala paste; if you have it, try using an upside-down grinder with the littlest amount of water (only if required) and make it as smooth as possible.
- In a large pan (you should be able to easily mix the curry once all the ingredients are in), ass the tablespoon of sunflower oil and heat on a medium flame.
- Once warm, add the methi (fenugreek) seeds and mustard seeds and allow to crackle; once done (about 30 seconds) add the curry leaves and quickly mix, ensuring these do not burn.
- To this base, add the masala paste and mix well, allowing it to warm up for a minute, then add one cup of water.
- Once the masala has warmed through again and the oil is separating on the sides, add the tamarind, jaggery (or brown sugar), black pepper (if using tamarind paste), and salt. Stir well and adjust the level of water to the consistency preferred.
- Add the oven-roasted eggplant to the hot curry just before serving, and allow them to cook in it for about 5 minutes. Serve with a garnish of fresh coriander. Enjoy!