This recipe is built on the basics spices that make the north Indian pickles. The eggplants are not pickled; they are cooked in a very distinctly aromatic sauce – bold, and finger licking good.
I had posted the Achari Murgh quite some time back and a many of you tried it out. The Achari Murgh is probably one of the most tried recipes from this blog. A lot of you also wanted to know of vegetarian options for the “Achari“. Here is one. The eggplants were slowly simmered in a sauce and the tantalizing smell of the spices made everyone walking around our home thinking out loud what it is that we were having for dinner.
Nature showered us with eggplants very abundantly this summer; we are still getting some, as Texas never really gets started with winter until mid December and that is if there is any winter at all. Any kind of eggplants may be used. I have used the small baby Indian kind as these were the most I harvested that day.
The other vegetarian kind of the Achari dishes may be made with potatoes, paneer or anything you can think of. It is the medley of spices that makes it so special and I would think any vegetable would get a new life in this sauce.
In northern regions of India, a good number of pickles use the spices that make the Indian Five Spice mix or Panch Phoron, in different proportions along with pure virgin mustard oil to make the base spice mix. The flavors are strong and there is something in this combination that would make you salivate; literally. The aroma of the roasting spices will make your spirit dance with joy.
On another note, we are surrounded with oodles of fun at this moment. I have my cousin sister and her family visiting us. The two little boys that she packed with her and flew across the world to be with us for a couple of weeks, are just the cutest things around I have encountered in a while. All the baby talk is keeping us amused day and night and it just feels so good to play with those little toes and fingers.
It is a beautiful time of the year, as we see the world via the changing hues. The shadows get longer, the air is crisp and the crackling fall leaves beneath our feet a constant reminder of the how delicate life is… all the more reason to remind ourselves to share and love and give with our heart.
This is the first time in the past 6 years that I have not been missing the fall colors of the north! It is simply gorgeous around here!
What a lovely way to start the holiday season!
Achari Baingan: Eggplant with Pickling Spices
Ingredients: (serves 6-8 as side dish)
- 12 small Indian eggplants
- 3 cup thinly sliced onion
- 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
- 1.5 tablespoon chili garlic paste (or garlic paste + cayenne/red chili powder)
- 1 cup grated/pureed fresh tomato
- 1/3 cup cooking oil (any kind you want to use) + 4 tablespoon oil (pref. pure virgin mustard oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- water as needed
- fresh cilantro/coriander to garnish
- a squeeze of lemon juice - optional
Pickling Spice Mix: (Description and photos of all the spice below is found here)
- 3 teaspoon saunf/fennel seed
- 4 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon kalonji/nigella/onion seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon methi/fenugreek seeds
- 2-3 red dry chile pepper
- 3 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 large pinch of hing/asafoetida
Heat a pan on the stove. Switch off the heat and place the spices (red chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella/kalonji/onion seeds, cinnamon and cloves). This process very lightly toasts the spices. You do not want them to be overdone or browned. Cool the spices and grind coarsely; combine with the hing/asafoetida and set aside.
Make ‘X’ ( – a cross) to the flesh of the eggplants, but leave the stems intact. Immerse them completely in a big bowl of salted water and set aside for at least 30 minutes. When ready to cook, remove eggplants and squeeze out the water.
Heat oil (both mustard & vegetable/canola together, if you are using both kind) in a thick-bottomed pan.
Add onions and sauté till light brown. Add grated ginger and continue to sauté for about 7 minutes at medium heat. Lower the heat and add the coarsely ground dry spice powder. Cook for half a minute, stirring all the time so the spices do not stick to the pan.
Combine chili garlic paste with the pureed tomatoes; set aside.
Add the eggplants & cook on high heat till the outside of the eggplants start to brown on all sides. Add grated tomatoes with garlic, the turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt to the pan and toss well till everything is well mixed.
Cook at medium heat till oil is slightly bubbly and leaves the sides of the pan.
Add about 2 cups of water, (more or less as needed to soften the eggplants and also to have a bit of sauce), stir, and cover the pan. Cook on medium heat till the eggplants are tender. Uncover and cook for a while or till the sauce is to your desired consistency. There should be enough sauce to dunk a bread and eat, but not too watery or soupy.
Drizzle the lemon juice if you wish to. Garnished with fresh coriander/cilantro.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Serves: 6-8 as a side dish
Related Posts – More Eggplant/Aubergine Recipes:
- Baingan ka Bharta: Smoky and Spiced Eggplant Mash
- Baingan Patiala (Spicy Stir Fried Eggplants)
- Eggplant Caponata
- Eggplant with Tomato, Garlic and Mint
- Eggplant/Brinjal with Poblano Peppers
- Harissa Stuffed Eggplants
- Roasted Eggplant with Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry