Bagaaray Baigan is a famous dish from Hyderabad that was introduced by the Nizams, the longstanding rulers of the city. The Nizams, who were an off-shoot of the Mughal Empire, introduced their cuisine and soon intertwined with the existing South Indian flavors of the region to make what is the current cuisine of Hyderabad. Bagaaray Baigan is composed of small eggplants tempered with various spices and tamarind pulp, a key ingredient popular to the region. It is now popularly served as a side dish to the famous Hyderabadi Biryani, but is also just as delicious with simple white rice or naan. This dish is the cousin to the another side dish of Biryani, Mirchi Ka Salan, which is derived from he same concept with a few minor changes, notably the use of peppers instead of eggplants.
Dry Spices for the Paste:
2 Tbsp Cumin Seeds
3 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
3 Tbsp Peanuts
4 Tbsp Dry Coconut Powder
1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
1 Tbsp Cashews
1 Large Onion Sliced
1 Tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
1 Tbsp Red Pepper Powder
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Cup Oil
For the Tempering:
1 lb Purple Indian Eggplants
2 Sprigs Curry Leaves
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 Tsp Kalaunji(Black Seeds)
4-5 Whole Green Chili’s
3 Tbsp Tamarind Pulp
1. Take a small pan and dry roast on a low flame the following spices individually for the paste: Cumin, Coriander, Peanuts, Coconut Powder, Poppy Seeds, and Cashews.
2. Next, heat about 1/2 cup oil in the pan and add the onions. Caramelize the onions to a light brown color. Let cool.
3. In a blender, add the spices, caramelized onion(with the oil used for frying it), ginger-garlic paste, red pepper powder, turmeric, and salt. Add about 2 cups of water and blend into a smooth paste.
4. Now prepare the eggplants. Wash clean and dry completely. Leave the stem on so it does not fall apart while cooking. Next, cut 2 slits in the eggplant from the bottom to form an X(See pic below).
5. Now you are ready to start the next step of tempering.
6. Take a pot and heat half a cup of oil. Turn the heat to low and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, black seeds, and curry leaves. Cover if needed, as it may splatter.
7. Next, add the eggplants and green chilis. Fry everything together until the eggplant starts to change to a brown color(5 minutes).
8. Add the paste of spices and mix together. Keep on low and simmer for about 15 minutes until the eggplants are cooked and soft.
9. Now take the tamarind pulp and dilute in about 1/2 cup water. Add to the pot and stir. You will see the color change to a darker brown hue(Depending on the color of your tamarind). Adjust salt if needed. Let simmer for another 10 minutes on low heat until the oil starts to separate.
Bagaaray Baigain is now ready to enjoy!