Bagara baingan (Indian Eggplant Curry) in Instant Pot step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
About this recipe
Hyderabadi bagara baingan is a rich and luscious eggplant curry popular from the South Indian state Telengana. Bagara (or bhagaar/bhagara) means tempering or seasoning and baigan means eggplant. The main ingredient of this curry is small purple eggplants, which are also popular as Indian eggplant or brinjal.
Also popularly known as Hyderabadi khatta baingan, this curry has a burst of favors - sweet, tangy, spicy, nutty! This baingan ka salan and pair with biryani. It goes well with any pulao or roti/naan.
The original recipe calls for frying the eggplant first and then simmering it in the curry base. In this recipe, I am making this brinjal curry without frying and also using an Instant Pot. My easy version of the authentic Indian eggplant curry recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes.
The base of this curry is made using a unique masala paste that has peanuts, sesame, coconut, and whole spices. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, this home-style baby eggplant curry is very different from any regular Indian curry you eat at restaurants.
The ingredients used to make the curry masala are some of the most commonly used Indian spices and can be easily found in any Indian grocery store. Read on for ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and useful tips to make this authentic South Indian eggplant curry in an easy way. For a variation, try the North Indian style aloo baingan made in the Instant Pot or this authentic dhaba-style baingan bharta.
Eggplant: Small purple eggplants are the main ingredient of this dish.
Masala paste: A fresh masala paste is made using peanuts, coconut, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and whole spices (coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom).
Tamarind: Soaked in water and juice extracted. You may replace it with store-bought tamarind pulp.
Tempering: (tadka/seasoning) An initial seasoning is made using mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves.
Onion, ginger, and garlic: These form the base of the curry.
Other ingredients: Jaggery, turmeric powder, green chili, coriander leaves (cilantro), and oil.
Grind the ingredients under masala paste into a smooth paste using ½ cup of water (steps 1,2).
Saute the eggplant in Instant Pot for 4-5 minutes until they begin to shrink and are charred. Set them aside (steps 3,4).
Prepare the tempering using mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and green chili (steps 5,6).
Saute until the onions are translucent (steps 7,8).
Add the ground masala paste, tamarind extract, jaggery, turmeric powder, and salt (steps 9,10).
Mix well and let it cook for 5 minutes (step 11).
Add the fried eggplant and 1½ cup water. Mix well (step 12).
Secure the IP lid and set it to pressure cook mode for 6 minutes. Do a natural release of pressure for 10 minutes, then do a quick release (steps 13,14). Bagara baingan is ready to be served.
Use small purple eggplants to make this brinjal curry. You can easily buy them in Indian or Asian grocery stores/markets.
Measure the water used to grind the masala paste. For this curry, I am using a total of three cups of water - one cup to soak the tamarind, ½ cup to make masala paste, and 1½ cup of water added to the IP.
I am using roasted peanuts in the masala paste. If you are using raw peanuts, make sure to dry roast them before using them. You may also replace it with two tablespoons of peanut butter.
You can make and store masala paste. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. The paste also freezes well for up to six months.
Click here for my collection of Instant Pot Indian curries.
You can store this curry in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can also freeze it for up to three months. The masala paste freezes well and can be stored in a freezer-safe container for up to six months.
Ideally, we need to use a small purple variety of eggplant. It is popularly known as Indian eggplant or brinjal and is available at Indian and Asian stores. However, if you do not have access to them, you may use regular eggplants and cut them in even-sized cubes.
Gutti vankaya is a popular Telugu dish which is made using baby eggplants. The masala base for both these curries is almost similar, with very subtle differences. However, the key difference is that in gutti vankaya, the masala paste is very dry and is stuffed in the eggplant. Here, the masala is cooked separately and then the eggplants are simmered in it.
This bagara baingan is:
- delicious, flavorful, and unique,
- good pair with biryani, roti, or naan,
- authentic tasting, yet very easy to make.
Bagara Baingan / Indian Eggplant Curry
For the curry
- 10-12 baby eggplant (500 grams)
- 3 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1-2 green chili finely chopped
- ¼ cup tamarind
- 1 tablespoon jaggery
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 2½ cups water
For the masala base:
- ¼ cup coconut
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 5-7 dried red chili
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 3-4 cardamom
- 5-6 cloves
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ cup water
- Soak the tamarind in one cup of water for 8-10 minutes. Extract the tamarind juice and discard the pulp.
- Grind the ingredients under masala paste into a smooth paste using ½ cup of water.
- Make two slits on the eggplant taking care not to cut them apart (the slits should form a ‘+’ sign) and keeping the stem intact. Set them aside.
Making the curry:
- Set the Instant Pot in saute mode (high) and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Add the eggplant and saute for 4-5 minutes until they begin to shrink and are charred (see step-by-step image). Set them aside.
- Next, add one tablespoon of oil and add mustard seeds.
- Once they splutter, add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, onion, ginger, and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the ground masala paste, tamarind extract, jaggery, turmeric powder, and salt.
- Mix well and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the fried eggplant and 1½ cup water. Mix well.
- Secure the IP lid and set it to pressure cook mode for 6 minutes.
- Do a natural release of pressure for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
- Mix well and top with cilantro.
- Serve hot with biryani or roti.