Hyderabad, the city of Charminar, gorgeous bangles and pearls, is although known more for its carnivorous food, does offer some amazing vegetarian delights..think baghare baingan, salan, kut, shirmal & khubaani ka meetha. All very decadent and delicious, but I perhaps a little too rich for everyday meals. Take for instance the baghare baingan for which a lot of recipes ask for atleast 1/4 cup of oil in addition to lots of peanuts, sesame and coconut, all of which are loaded with natural oils, making it a scrumptious but occasional indulgence.
Now there are some dishes where I don't mind the fat, but then baingan is the kind of vegetable that I eat all the time, unlike say brownies or pizza, and so to me a 385 calorie side dish of eggplants is plain illogical. I pared the oil down to 1 tsp, for 4 servings, which I could not reduce further, as I had onions to fry. Next time I will do away with the oil and onions completely and simply rely on the coconuts, peanuts and sesame to release their fragrant natural oils, ala thai curries and see if that works as well in this dish. For now, here's baghare baingan, in a dieter's delight version :
6 to 8 small purple eggplants,
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp grated coconut
1 tbsp peanuts
1.5 tsp coriander seeds, or 1 tsp coriander powder
3 to 4 dry red chillies ( go with 1 or 2 if you like it less spicy), or use 1/2 tsp chilli powder/cayenne
5 to 6 methi seeds (1/4 tsp)
1/2 cumin seeds
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp oil
Wash and dry the eggplants, cut the base (stem part) off slightly make so that it can stand. Now make two perpendicular cuts on the other (rounded) end. For the stuffing, dry roast peanuts, sesame and coconut separately. Also roast the coriander seeds and dry chilli, unless you are using the readymade powders for these. Grind everything together till you get a coarse paste. Stuff this generously into the eggplant slits and keep any remaining stuffing aside.
Heat oil and add mustard and cumin seeds, followed by chopped onions once the seeds crackle. Once the onion is cooked, add the extra stuffing, if any and then carefully keep the eggplants one by one, cross side up. Add 1 cup of water and salt to taste and cover and cook on a low flame till the eggplants are done to your liking. I like them really soft, it took me a little over 20 minutes to get them done. If the water dries up too soon, add a little more.Once the eggplants are nearly done, add the tamarind pulp dissolved in 3 tbsp of water, mix well and cook for another couple of minutes. Serve warm.
1 cup of evenly sized arbi (taro/colocasia)
1 small onion, sliced
1 large tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp tamarind pulp (optional)
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp each mustard and cumin seeds
1 tsp oil
Boil the arbi till tender but not mushy, took around 3 whistles in my pressure cooker. It works best if you boil them a couple of hours before preaparing as it is easier to peel once it cools down. If you are rushed, stick them in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes after boiling. Peel and cut the larger ones into two to make bite sized pieces. Now, flash fry it for a few seconds just to remove any sliminess or sprinkle some oil and roast it in the oven for a few minutes. Heat 1 tsp oil, crackle cumin and mustard seeds, and then add the onion. Once the onion is cooked, add the tomatoes and the turmeric, coriander & chili powder. Keep cooking till the tomatoes break down completely, then add the arvi. Season with salt to taste. Add tamarind now if using, I did'nt as it was already khatta enough for me. The original recipe called for 1 cup of water but i used only 1/2 cup as I wanted a dry curry. Simmer for a few mi utes till it reaches a consistency you like. Done.
We had these with plain rotis, and curd and dal. Initially I planned khatti dal, but since both the curries were tangy enough, I left the dal plain.All those lovely nuts and spices in these tangy curries ensured that we didn't miss the oil at all.