Exploring the cuisine of each State in India by turn, is such an enriching experience. This Baingan Badi Sabzi, a delicious eggplant and lentil fritters curry from the traditional Bhojpuri cuisine prevalent in the Indian states of Bihar and UttarPradesh, is interesting to make and has ingredient options that make it nutritious too. The main ingredient is the brinjal or eggplant/ aubergine. This is accompanied by small sun dried badis which seems to have many names – wadi, wadiyan, mangodi etc. The basic ingredient for making a badi is flour – though the flour and spices, herbs to be added differ across regions. I have made a simple Bihari Urad dhal ki badi, with black gram lentils. The recipe is given in the instructions below.
Cooking the State wise dishes of India are part of the monthly theme set by this lovely food blogger group, Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge . Every month each of us is paired up with another blogger, and a theme for the month also decided. Each of the participants name 2 ingredients for their partner, and we have to make and post a picture of the dish using these 2 ingredients. The remaining members of the group have to try and guess the secret ingredients. Its both interesting and a great deal of learning while we research the cuisine of the State for the month.
The theme for December is Bihari cuisine and my partner for the month, the talented food blogger Amrita Iyer (more about her, below) gave me as the secret ingredients – dill leaves and urad dhal (Black gram lentils). As I had fresh purple eggplant, I decided to try and make the badi (or wadi as it is often known – a type of sundried lentil fritters) and the very tasty Baingan Badi Sabzi – Curried aubergine in mustard oil, with Black gram fritters.
Amrita Iyer blogs at The Food Samaritan. Do take a few minutes to check out the blog. It is versatile and interesting, with recipes ranging from food from different Indian regions, to soups and salads, curries and gravies, sauces and cakes! I had given her as her secret ingredients, gram flour and coriander seeds, and she made this delicious looking Papda ki Subzi which I must try out soon too!
While deciding on the recipe I wanted to make for this month’s theme, I browsed through Pallavi Nigam Sahay’s wonderful cookbook, The Bhojpuri Kitchen. It describes the food of this region and has a number of well explained recipes, all of them mouth watering. I loved the book and am going to make more of these recipes soon. I referred her recipe for Baingan Badi Sabzi to the extent of some of the quantities, however I did not follow the recipe to a large extent as I made a different version with spinach and dill leaves.
Before you make this dish from the recipe below, please go through my Kitchen Hints:
- In this recipe for making Baingan Badi Sabzi, I have added spinach and dill leaves which actually make it a Baingan Badi Saag Sabzi, a wholesome, nutritious and tasty dish. You may omit the greens if you wish, but I think it adds a lovely dimension to the flavours.
- The spices, greens, herbs and the brinjal with the fried badi is quite easy to put together once you have made the badi and prepped the vegetables.
- I have fried the brinjal slices for a few minutes before cooking them in the curry as this is one way of making the sabzi (and I like fried brinjal more than sautéed or steamed ones) but this is a step you may omit. Instead directly add raw instead of fried brinjal while while cooking and increase the mustard oil in the recipe as well as let the baingan cook longer till they are well done. I had reduced the mustard oil in the recipe as the badi and the brinjal were both deep fried separately and lesser oil was therefore needed in the curry.
Making the urad dhal badi:
Most of the food of the Bihari cuisine seem to have flour as a component. The famous sattu in some, or gram flour (basen) or rice flour or, as in this recipe, urad dhal flour. A few days before I planned to make the Baingan Badi Sabzi, I soaked urad (black gram lentils overnight) and then ground them into a batter with cumin seeds and very little water. After this I made the little badis and sun dried them for 3 days.
The urad dhal badi dried well even in the lower intensity of December heat, and fried into crisp little badis. It was easy to make them, but badis are available ready made in many places in Northern India and you may choose to get them from the store instead of making the urad dhal badi from scratch. I have therefore not added the time for making the badi, in the recipe details. However if you plan to make badi at home, you need to plan at least 3 sunny days ahead of time before you can actually make Baingan Badi Sabzi.