Food talk
Spicing up winter

Dahi ke baigan provides a perfect foil for hot vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries, writes Pushpesh Pant

There are very few Indian recipes that allow cold dishes to play a solo, stellar role—accompaniments like raita, pachadi are a different matter. The emphasis is always on garmagarm—steaming hot—even if not even a small mouthful can be partaken without ‘cooling it’ by blowing over it!

Imagine our delight when we were recently treated to a most satisfying meal at an Oriya friend’s house where dahi ke baigan occupied centrestage. These were served cold—actually at room temperature and make no mistake dahi, tasty at it was, was not the most substantial part of the dish—and no one could confuse this delicacy with a raita.

The long baigans were delightfully ‘fleshy’, spiced mildly but quite distinctively. There was a baghar that leaned towards dakshin—curry patta, mustard seeds and all and slit deseeded green chillies, not visible on the surface, had imparted a pleasant tang to the subzi.

We had a bowlful with roti, another with a helping of rice then a little more with a morsel of roti just to mop up the gravy. When we asked for the recipe, the hostess, with charming candour, told us that she kept trying out variations to her mother’s recipe according to fancy. This pleased us even more—we had got the licence to improvise on the thanda theme.

It needs to be added that this delicacy is not a ‘summer special’. With steaming rice and roti or paratha hot from the tawa, it provides a perfect foil for hot—both spice and temperature wise—vegetarian and non-vegetarian curries. The kind lady who introduced us to these real cool aubergines had deep-fried them—we think pan grilled on a non-stick are a healthier and no less tasty an option.

If desired, you may use quarter-inch thick slices of large round baigan used for bharta. You can stick with the basic masala or adventurously venture out in the dried herbs territory."

Chef’s special


Baigan (choice of round or long) 250 gm

Curds (whisked and mixed with

a spoonful of water) 200 ml

Ginger-garlic paste 1 tbsp

Zeera powder 1 tsp

Dhaniya powder `BD tsp

A pinch of laal mirch

A pinch of haldi

A pinch of hing

Oil 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Green chillies (slit and deseeded) 2-3

A large sprig of hara dhaniya

The tempering

A sprig of curry leaves

Mustard seeds `BD tsp

Red chillies (optional) 1-2


Wash, pat dry and slice the brinjals—round or length-wise. If preferred

don’t separate at the stem. Coat a non-stick pan with a thin film of oil and place it over flame—after it is heated put in the ginger-garlic paste and stir fry for about a minute adding the powdered spices and salt dissolved in a spoonful of water then place the baigan slices and cook till tender— turning once or twice with a wooden spatula.

Heat the dahi mixed with water in a separate pan and keep stirring continuously to ensure that it does not curdle. When cooked—it does not smell raw—remove from flame.

Now heat the left over oil in a frying pan, put in it first the hing then the mustard seeds when it dissolves; and when these begin to crackle, add the whole red chilly, put in the curry leaves as soon as chilly changes colour. Pour the tempering over the dahi, mix well. Now combine the cooked baigan and dahi in a large bowl, garnish with green chillies and coriander and enjoy.