Baigan Ka Salan is a dish in which eggplants are cooked in a creamy spicy sauce – the dish originated in Hyderabad. The beautiful sauce is often thickened with peanuts, as in this version, but this recipe uses white poppy seeds. Serve it with biriyani, roti, paratha or parotta. It is so good.
For this dish it is common to use whole eggplants – I often use the smaller, fat, slightly circular ones. Our other version of Baingan ka Salan does that. However, when you only have the very large eggplants, cut them into wedges. That is what we do in this recipe, but feel free to use smaller, whole ones if you have them. See the recipe for how to slice them without cutting right through them.
Baingan Ka Salan | Eggplant in Spicy Coconut Sauce
4 eggplants, about 1kg
120 ml Indian mustard oil
2 tspns chilli powder
1 tspn turmeric powder
10 fresh curry leaves
35g grated coconut (use frozen if you can’t find fresh)
200 ml coconut milk
for ginger-garlic paste
2 tspns fresh ginger, chopped
2 tspns chopped garlic
1 tspn coriander seeds
2 tspns cumin seeds
2 tspns white poppy seeds
2 tspns sesame seeds
160ml boiling water
Soak a golf ball size piece of tamarind in the hot water for 15 – 30 minutes. Strain, pushing the pulp through the strainer, discarding the pulp and seeds. Alternatively, use a tspn of tamarind concentrate and dissolve in the water. Keep aside.
Combine ginger and garlic in a spice grinder and grind to a smooth paste. Add a little water if necessary.
Dry roast the coriander, cumin, poppy and sesame seeds over low heat until fragrant and lightly toasted. Cool and grind to a fine powder.
In the same pan, toast the coconut over low heat until golden, stirring all the time.
If the eggplants are large, cut them into thick wedges or slices, lengthwise. For smaller eggplants, start at the bottom and cut a slit about 3/4 of the way up the eggplant, leaving the stems intact.
Heat the mustard oil in a kadhai, wok or large pan, and fry the eggplant in batches until lightly browned. Remove the eggplant and reserve.
In the same oil add the garlic-ginger paste, chilli powder, turmeric powder, curry leaves and toasted coconut. Stir over a medium heat until fragrant.
Add the eggplant, coconut milk and powdered spices. Mix well, cover and simmer gently for around 15 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. Add the tamarind water and salt to taste. Simmer until the sauce thickens.