In one of my earlier post I had mentioned how I detested baingan for a long time. It was much later in life that I started appreciating the taste of this veggie (though I still find it difficult to swallow down Baba Ghanoush). For long I could not bring myself to eat this soft squishy vegetable. The texture used to be such a put off that no amount of cajoling used to work. Thanks to an ex-colleague that I started viewing baingan in a new light (via this recipe primarily). Baingan is known by many different names – eggplant, brinjal, aubergine and baingan or baigan (in hindi).
For this preparation of baingan, I prefer using this particular variety of baingan coz this variety holds its shape better than the regular ones and does not go as mushy as other varieties do. Having said that, you can use any variety of your choice and it will taste just as good 😊
Although I am going to share the Punjabi version of making alu baingan I have given it a slight twist of taste by adding the Bengali spice mix Panch Phoran (a spice mix comprising five spices added in equal amounts – cumin seeds, mustard sees, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds and nigella seeds) to it. On most days it is only cumin seeds that go-in in the tempering however every now and then, I add Panch Phoran to the tempering. In fact, I occasionally add this spice mix to the dry curry preparations, such as the Gobhi Alu, especially during winters. A teaspoon of this spice mix changes the whole flavour profile of the dish and adds a beautiful complexity to it. The spices lend a warmth to the dish. The dish can be served as a side dish with rice and dal or as a main dish with chapati and yogurt/ raita.
175 gm Potatoes
150 gm Onion (approximately ¾ C roughly chopped)
3 – 4 fat cloves Garlic
½ tsp finely chopped Root Ginger (adrak)
2½ tbsp Oil (I use Mustard Oil and smoke it well)
½ – ¾ tsp Panch Phoran (you need atleast half tsp and max ¾ tsp)
¾ tsp Salt (or to taste)
½ tsp Red Chili Powder (or to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
¾ tsp Dry Coriander Powder
½ tsp Garam Masala
1 medium Tomato (approx. 70 gm), (pureed, with skin, in a grinder/ blender)
Peel and wash the onion and roughly chop it. Set aside.
Peel and chop the garlic as well. Set aside.
Wash the aubergines and wipe them dry. Remove the stem and cut vertically in twos or fours depending on the size. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add panch phoran. Allow it to crackle and then add chopped onions, garlic and ginger.
Sauté the onions and garlic till they begin to turn golden. Add potatoes along with aubergines.
Fry for a minute and reduce heat. Cover and cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it does not catch at the bottom.
Remove cover and add spices except garam masala and stir well.
Cover and cook again stirring occasionally.
Once the potatoes are nearly done, make a well in the centre and add tomato pulp. Cover the tomato pulp with the potatoes and aubergines and cook uncovered for a minute.
Now gently stir everything together and add garam masala. Cook for another minute or two or till the potatoes are completely cooked.
Note – I do not add even a drop of water while cooking.
Note – I mostly add tomatoes towards the end of the cooking process as the tomatoes slow down the process of cooking the veggies.
Serves – 3