Experiments in Cooking

Bagara Baingan (baby eggplant), Pressure Cooked

I’ve been working in adapting this recipe for use in my electric pressure cooker, and the day has finally come when I’m happy with the outcome!

Bagara baingan is my favorite recipe and while it can be a labor of love, I’ve simplified it for myself by avoiding some steps. I use untoasted sesame seeds. I buy dry roasted peanuts in bulk and keep them in my freezer (to avoid roasting them). When missing fresh green chillies, I’m not above throwing in a dry red chilli instead. And of course, ginger & garlic paste instead of the fresh stuff. The replacements probably bring this down by a tiny notch, but they make my very busy life a little easier.

I used up three things in the kitchen: The instant pot to sautee the eggplants & then cook the dish. My blender to grind down the onions. My wet/dry spice grinder to make the nut paste. If you can grind small quantities of nuts in your blender, you can be down to two applicances. Easy peasy cleanup!

Eggplants sliced lengthwise and sauteed

First up, slice the eggplants lengthwise without cutting through the tip, so that they hold together. I don’t bother with salting or stuffing them since they cook in the spices. Sautee while you prep the onion & nut pastes.

Ready for pressure cooking

Next, add all the other ingredients into the pot, minus the garnish. I have a programmed pressure cook setting that heats at 75% power to avoid burning at the bottom.

Pairs deliciously with methi parathas

To serve, I simply garnished with a few frozen cilantro leaves and a dollop of ghee. I am the only person who enjoys cilantro in the family, so they’re more likely to be found in my freezer than my fridge. And frozen methi (fenugreek) parathas made this a perfect dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 baby eggplants
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • ginger & garlic (fresh or paste)
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chilli (or a green one ground with the coconut)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, ground (or 1.5 tsp powder)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, ground (or 1 tsp powder)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tap cayenne powder
  • 1” piece cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander leaves & a dollop of ghee for garnish (optional)

Method:

Wash & dry the eggplants.

Slice them into quarters lengthwise without cutting all the way to the stem, keeping the pieces together & the eggplant intact.

Heat the IP to high saute mode. Swirl oil to coat the bottom, and the mustard seeds & dry red chilli (if using). Wait till seeds begin popping, then add the eggplant. Stir infrequently- just to keep from burning.

Prepare two different pastes while the eggplant browns:

Onion paste: coarsely chop onions. Add onions, ginger (1/2” piece or 1 tsp paste), garlic (2 big cloves or 1 tsp paste). If using green chilli instead of red, asked that in as well and grind everything to paste with 1/4 cup water.

Nut paste: Grind the peanuts, coconut and sesame seeds together. Optional: toast the sesame seeds for added flavor. Cool before grinding. Once ground to mealy consistency, add 1/3 cup water to continue grinding into a paste.

Add the onion paste to the IP. Add the turmeric, cayenne, cumin & coriander powders. Stir frequently so they don’t burn. When onion starts to brown, add the nut paste.

Continue mixing well. Next, dissolve the tamarind in 1 cup water and add to the pot.

Add any remaining ingredients except the fresh coriander leaves. Cook at high pressure for 12 minutes. Natural release (NPR).

Add any more salt if needed. Serve garnished with optional coriander leaves and a dollop of ghee.



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