Baingan Badi Sabzi - Curried Aubergine with Black Gram Fritters
Delicious Baingan Badi Sabzi from Bihari cuisine, a curry of aubergine (brinjal) with fried black gram fritters (urad dhal badi or wadi), made nutritious with fresh spinach and dill leaves and flavoured with cumin, fenugreek and turmeric. Plan to make the badi a few days ahead as they need to be sun-dried for 2-3 days.
Slice onions into small pieces.
Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.
Dice the tomatoes into small cubes.
Remove stalks from red chillies and break them if desired
Wash, drain and dry the dill and spinach leaves in a salad spinner or in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the water as possible. Chop the leaves and wrap in a damp towel till required.
Keep all ingredients ready so that you can quickly add them one by one to the curry as required.
Slice the brinjals last of all, into 2 cm long thin pieces. Sprinkle a little turmeric and toss them to delay the browning, or else immediately start the frying process as in instructions below.
Heat the oil in a small pan.
Add badi to the hot oil. Reduce the heat and fry the badi, turning them over periodically with a slotted spoon. Drain the oil and remove the badi from the pan when the colour darkens to brown (without letting them go dark or black). Set aside, till required.
Heat the oil in which the badi was fried and add the brinjal slices in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. You want to deep-fry and not sauté or steam the brinjal. Reduce the heat when the slices are added, and fry each batch for about 3 minutes. Drain the oil and remove each batch to a bowl. Set aside till required.
To make the Baingan Badi Subzi
In a fresh pan, heat mustard oil.
On low heat, add the cumin (jeera) seeds. Sauté for 10 seconds and add fenugreek (methi) seeds. Sauté till they sputter/burst.
Add dry red chillies, whole or broken as preferred. Sauté for 20 seconds, turning the chillies so that all sides are fried.
Add garlic and ginger, sauté for about 2 minutes on low flame.
Add the sliced onion, saute for 3-4 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally, till they begin to brown and darken.
Add the chopped tomatoes. Add the chopped dill and spinach leaves. Sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the masalas: turmeric powder, chilli powder, hing, one by one, stirring lightly.
Saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently as the masalas may stick to the pan and char.
Break the fried badi into pieces and add. Stir.
Add the sliced fried brinjal, stir.
Add garam masala and amchur powders.
Add salt to taste, and stir well.
Cook on low heat till the brinjals are soft and cooked through, stirring frequently as they may catch at the bottom of the pan.
Once the brinjal is cooked, remove the curry from the stove and serve hot with chapatis or with rice and dhal
To make Urad dhal Badi from scratch
Rinse and then soak the whole urad dhal in water sufficient to cover the dhal, overnight.
Next morning, drain the water and wash the soaked dhal 2-3 times, drain again and grind the dhal with the cumin seeds into a paste, using as little water as possible. The lesser the water, the quicker the badi will dry and the batter will have the consistency required for shaping it. Add salt and hing powder and run the mixie once more so that they spread evenly in the batter. The batter may be coarse however the cumin should have ground completely.
Transfer the batter to a bowl and beat it and check the consistency. You need to be able to lift spoonfuls of batter to sun dry, but it should not flow easily either. If you are not able to lift a spoonful of batter, add a teaspoon of water at a time, mix, and try again.
Using a clean cloth or spreading a little oil on trays or plates, drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the cloth or tray. Or wet your fingers slightly and drop small portions of the batter onto the tray. Try to make them even sized and leave space for the badi to spread a little as it dries.
I made small badis but you can make them larger.
Dry the badi in the sun for 2-3 days till one side of the badi is dry. Turn each badi over so that the other side gets the sun, and dry again for at least one more day till the badi is completely dry and can be broken into pieces by hand. When sun drying, keep the badi out in sunlight in the morning, and take it back once the sunlight goes away in the late afternoon or evening.
I placed the badi for drying on a silicon baking sheet and covered it with a clean net to protect it from birds.
Once completely dry, remove the badi from the cloth/ tray and store in an airtight container.