The first time I tasted Baingan Ka Salan was several years back at my work place. One of my colleague’s Mom was in town for a few weeks and during that time, his lunch box was the best in the group. After sharing with the gluttonous team, he used to barely get a few bites. Soon, his Mom started packing a little extra for us and we shamelessly didn’t even bother to stop her. We were just so very thankful to eat such delicious home cooked food.
One day, he brought eggplant curry and I was not too thrilled because back then, I could enjoy eggplant only two ways, either pan-fried or roasted. The soggy eggplant in curry was never appealing for my taste buds. I needed that crunch or that char smoky flavor. But when I saw how everyone was licking their fingers and going crazy on the taste, I just had to take a bite. It didn’t change my view on eggplant in a curry but that taste lingered for a very long time.
Few months back, we had the same dish in a restaurant and those workdays just flashed in my mind. Since then, I wanted to give this curry a try at home. Although I am calling this dish Baingan Ka Salan, I have definitely detoured a little bit by using cashews instead of peanuts. It’s only because I don’t like peanuts as much and cashew adds an extra creaminess to any gravy that I absolutely enjoy. The cashews combined with nutty sesame and coconut makes the gravy so very luscious!
- 5 to 6 baby eggplants
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- ¼ cup cashews
- ¼ cup desiccated grated coconut
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- few fresh curry leaves
- extra cashews for garnish
- Slit the baby eggplants in the center without cutting it all the way through. Rub some salt in the slits and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- In a small pan, dry roast the grated coconut, sesame seeds and cashews. Once done, blend them into a paste. Add a little water, if required.
- Heat enough oil in a pan or a wok to shallow fry the eggplants. Keep the eggplant aside once fried. Alternatively, you can roast the eggplants in the oven.
- Now, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a separate pan and scatter mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Once it sizzles, drop the onion and season with salt. Add turmeric and give it a stir. Cook until mild golden in color.
- Add the cashew, coconut and sesame paste, sprinkle some salt and give it a stir. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes and then, add enough water to form thick gravy. Drop the fried eggplants, lower the heat and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- In a separate pan, add a little oil and drop some curry leaves along with some cashews. Once it sizzles, turn off the heat and pour it on top of the egg plant curry. Serve it warm with your choice of bread or rice.