This bagara baingan is my friend's mother, Nevine's modern take on the sub-continent classic. It's a flavorful vegetarian side: sliced eggplant simmered in a rich masala paste and topped with a vibrant tadka of curry leaves, dried chilies, cumin and mustard seeds.
Handful of roughly chopped cilantro for garnishoptional
½medium red onionsliced in half rings
4kadi patta(curry leaves)
4dried round chilies
1tspof cumin seeds
Place tamarind pulp in a bowl, and add roughly 1 cup hot water (see notes). Squeeze the tamarind to soften it and make it paste-like. Remove seeds. Set the tamarind water aside.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small sauce pan. Add the ½ sliced red onion and brown on medium heat till soft.
Add the spices listed under masala paste and roast them on low heat till they change color and become fragrant (about 10 minutes). Make sure they don't burn. Once done, grind the onion and spices in a food processor or spice grinder to create a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add remainder of the chopped onion. Turn up heat and fry till soft and translucent. Add ginger and garlic paste and fry for a few seconds. Add splash of water to deglaze the pan as needed.
Add the ground masala paste and fry till aromatic.
Lower heat, and layer the sliced eggplant on top of the onion and paste.
Slowly strain the tamarind water into the pan while squeezing the tamarind to infuse it with more flavor.
Turn up the heat to bring the tamarind water to a boil. Once it begins to simmer, lower heat to medium and cover the pan with a tight lid. Turn heat off when the eggplant softens (about 10-15 minutes).
Layer the eggplant onto a serving dish. Drizzle with whipped yogurt. Top with birista.
For the tadka, 2 tbsp oil. Add kadi patta (curry leaves), dried red chilies, cumin seeds and mustard seeds in quick succession as they change color. Remove from heat.
Pour the tadka (with oil) over the eggplant. Add cilantro for garnish.
Please note that the water you add depends on the size of the eggplant. You don't want the dish to be soupy - it's a dry dish - just enough water that the sliced eggplant can gently simmer and draw flavor from the tamarind-infused water.