Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Achari Baingan / Eggplant in Pickling Spices

 Achari Baingan is a lip-smacking curry from the Punjabi Cuisine. Here, baby eggplants are cooked with pickling spices in a tomato based curry . Achari baingan is spicy and tangy in taste and gets a characteristic flavor and aroma from mustard oil and the spices used in a typical North Indian pickle. The curry tastes equally good with any Indian flat bread like phulka, naan, paratha or steamed rice . This is a quick and healthy version of achari baigan which does not call for any marination time or deep frying of eggplant.

My husband loves eggplant or brinjal in any form. But my little one hates it to the core and i have to always look for different ways of cooking eggplant with a hope that some day he develops a liking towards this healthy fruit vegetable. I mostly make bharli vangi and vangi bhaat with the baby eggplant and vangyacha bharith and begun bhaaja using the large variety. This time i tried this flavorful achari baingan as a variation and paired it with jeera rice for our lunch. I adapted the recipe from a cookery show i viewed on television a few days back. They had deep fried the eggplant pieces and the gravy had yogurt , i altered the recipe to suit our taste buds.

Before we jump into the recipe, lets have a quick look at health benefits of adding this fruit to our daily diet. Eggplant or aubergine come in a variety of shape, size and color. It is rich in fiber and antioxidants, nutrient-dense, low in calories , contain potassium, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. It is believed to support heart and liver health, lowers blood cholesterol, helps in anemia. Source

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3-4

  • 7-8 baby eggplants
  • 1 large onion , finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree*(check out the recipe notes below for the method)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt to taste
Spices used:
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds/ saunf
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/ jeera
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds/ rai
  • 1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds/ kalonji
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds/ methi dana
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mango powder/ amchur powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafoetida/ hing
  1. Wash the eggplants , trim the stem and discard it. Halve them lengthwise and soak in a bowl of cold water until use to prevent them from discoloring. Alternatively you may sprinkle salt on the halved eggplant in a bowl and allow it to sweat until use. Keep the whole spices, tomato puree, spice powders ready at hand.

2. Heat mustard oil in a sauce pan and allow it to smoke. Lower the flame and after few seconds, add the panch phuran ( mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds) . Once the seeds crackle, add the asafoetida powder followed by the ginger garlic paste and stir fry until the raw smell disappears. Next tip in the finely chopped onion and saute for about a minute before adding the tomato puree.

3. Mix the tomato puree well with the onion and stir fry for 2-3 minutes on medium flame while stirring intermittently. Once you see oil separating from the mixture, lower the flame and add the spice powders. Stir fry the masala for half a minute, taking care , you do not burn the spices.

 4. Drain all the water from the eggplant and add them to the pan. Mix them well using a spatula such that each piece gets coated with the masala. 

5. Now stir in 1/2 cup of hot water . Cover the pan and cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes on medium flame. Open the lid, add sugar if using and salt to taste and cover cook on low to medium flame for 4-5 minutes with intermittent stirring. Lastly add the amchur powder, give a quick stir and put off the flame when the eggplants are cooked well yet hold their shape.

 6. Serve hot with steamed rice or any flat bread of your choice. I have serve it with jeera rice.

 Recipe Notes:
  • To make tomato puree , wash 2 large tomatoes , make a plus mark at the base with a knife and tip them to a sauce pan of boiling water. Cover cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from boiling water, peel off the skin , chop them roughly and puree them in a blender without adding any water.
  • Mustard oil gives the typical pickle taste in this achari baingan. However, you may use any other cooking oil if it is not available or you are not used to its strong flavor and aroma.
  • Use paneer pieces instead of eggplant in this recipe to make a quick achari paneer.
  • You may wish to sweat the eggplant to remove the bitterness before adding them to the curry. I did not do that. For that place the eggplant pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle salt on them and keep them aside for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant pieces after that before adding them to the curry.
Regular readers of this blog, must have noticed that on alternate months I participate in the A-Z recipe challenge. It is a food-group on Facebook which is an initiative by my fellow blogger friend Jolly Makkar and Vidya Narayan. Food bloggers who wish to contribute to the theme choose key ingredients alphabetically and cook a dish with it. For this month E is the alphabet and this flavorful and aromatic Eggplant in pickling spices is my contribution towards the theme.


Related Recipes:

For more eggplant recipes do check out the following recipes from this blog