Baby aubergines are delicious at the best of times, but placed in the creamy trio of poppy seeds, coconut and peanuts gives them an altogether lavish twist. This recipe hails from Hyderabad, which brings together a unique blend of the lavish Persian palate with Deccan flavours of the South with magical results. My weekday twist to this sumptuous classic is to roast the baby aubergines while you get on with the curry it basks in. I use thick and creamy coconut milk and no added sugar peanut butter for the sauce, which is thickened with roasted poppy seeds. You can omit them, but they do impart additional creamy and nutty goodness to the curry. This easy bagara baingan recipe serves two if it's all you're eating or four when served with other side dishes.
Bring the oven to heat at 200 o C and line a baking tray with foil. Now place the aubergines in a mixing bowl and wash and drain them. Toss them in half a teaspoon of salt and oil, then slit once through the middle lengthways keeping the stems intact. Place them on the lined baking tray and roast for 20 minutes, flipping over once mid-way.
While they are cooking, make your curry. In a small frying pan, roast the poppy seeds on a medium flame for 10 second until golden and aromatic. Leave this to sit, while you peel and chop the onions, ginger and garlic. You can finely grate the ginger and garlic if you prefer a finer finish.
Now, bring the two tablespoons of oil to heat on high. When it’s hot, add in the onions and sauté for five minutes until they take on colour. Now add the ginger, garlic and curry leaves and sauté for another five minutes.
Next, add the coriander and chilli and stir through. You may want to add half a cup of hot water to prevent the spices from sticking to the pan and burning.
As the spices bubble for a couple of minutes, place the peanut butter, coconut milk and poppy seeds in a hand blender and puree for 20 seconds.
Then stir the mixture into the spice paste and bring it to boil. When it starts bubbling, lower the heat to a high simmer and cook for another 10 minutes until you see oil separating from the curry and seeping out of the edges of the pan. If you prefer more curry, you can mix in half a cup of hot water to loosen the spice paste.
Stir through the tamarind until it melts into the curry, check and add salt to your taste. Then drop in the aubergines to finish. Enjoy this easy Bagara Baingan Recipe hot tucked into naan.