Baingan (Vankaya) masala probably is entire 1+ billion Indian population favorite dish. Whether it is a birthday in a household, or another special day, or a holy gathering, or an upscale event, brinjal masala is a must. Baingan masala is a vegetarian Indian recipe made of sautéed brinjal (eggplant), simmered in creamy vegan gravy. I realize, that there are so many tasty, economic vegan dishes in Indian cuisine. All my childhood, 95% of the time, I ate vegan dishes. Embrace the comfort of Indian vegan dishes. This Indian vegan, meatless savory main course offers plenty of flavor, aroma and nutrition.
This vegan-friendly Indian recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, 100% chemical-free. No packaged curry powders or canned ingredients used. This dish is usually eaten with rice in main course. This Gutti Vankaya Recipe is actually Andhra and Telangana specialty. Though every state has its own version of baingan masala, Telangana version is the signature dish. Telangana ancient cooks somehow figured out worlds best way to cook eggplant.
The recipe calls for a number of ingredients including peanuts. In this family-friendly Indian dish, eggplant or brinjals are slit, stuffed and cooked in a peanut-based gravy with spices. The creamy vegan gravy lends velvety, silky richness, while brinjals and spices give rich flavor to the dish. When cooking brinjals, often the case, where a few brinjals are overcooked and a few are undercooked. There is a technique to cook all of them evenly. Separate tender ones and aged ones. Now group same size brinjals in each type. While sautéing, sauté hard and big size ones first, cook for 30 seconds to2 minutes depending on size difference. Then add smaller sized brinjals. Continue to smallest one eventually. If you continue cooking brinjals this way all of them are cooked perfectly.
When you pick brinjals, pick even sized ones. That way you can ensure all are evenly cooked. Do not remove the stem. Once you slit brinjals, make sure to place in water, so that they don’t change color. Do not slit close to stem. While cooking, they may be torn apart. Keep at least 1 cm gap between cut and stem.
- 10 equal sized brinjals
- 1 medium-sized onion around 3 inches in diameter
- ¼th cup peanuts. You should take ¼th amount of peanuts of onion
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi) optional
- 8 green small Thai chilies or any other chilies
- 1 inch round tamarind
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 5 sprigs cilantro
- 5 tbsp or more healthy oil
- ½ tsp black mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp grated coconut - optional
- Soak tamarind in water.
- Roast peanuts and fenugreek seeds (if using) to golden brown on medium heat. Let them cool.
- Dice onions.
- Slit brinjals with X mark from top to stem. Make sure to place in water, so that they don't change color. Do not slit close to stem. While cooking, they may be torn apart. Keep at least 1 cm gap between cut and stem. Separate equal sized brinjals.
- Take a wide pan. Pan should be wide to place as many brinjals. Add 2 tbsp oil. Heat to medium. Add largest, hardest slit brinjals first. Close lid and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Time varies depending on size diferrence and pan type you are using. Now add next sized brinjals. Stir slowly to rotate brinjals so that brinjals are fried on all sides. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat till all brinjals are added. Make sure brijals are not over cooked and smashed. Remove the ones cooked before getting smashed. Cook brinjals upto 70%. They have to be intact, but a little soft.
- Now prepare gravy. First, grind peanuts to powder in a blender. Add onion, chilies. Add little by little water as needed. Grind to paste.
- Add oil to a pot. Heat to high. Add mustard seeds. When they splutter, turn stove to medium.
- Add cumin. Cook until golden brown.
- Add ground paste. Add 1 cup of water. Close lid and cook on medium for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add water if needed.
- Meanwhile, squeeze tamarind juice.
- Add salt, chili powder, coriander powder and tamarind juice. Stir. Add water if needed.
- Now add sauteed brinjals slowly. Make sure they are not smashed. Stir slowly.
- Close lid and cook for another 20 minutes. By now oil should float and brinjals should be well cooked.. If using coconut, add coconut. At this point, turn off the stove.
- Garnish with cilantro.
- Serve hot with rice or naan