I ran a little Instagram poll the other day to see if this Dahi Baingan/ Baingan ka Raita was worth posting and apparently over 90% of you think so.
Was I surprised? Not really.
I remember calling my mother one chilly evening in Toronto, at some absurdly early time in Karachi because I had managed to mess it up. My mother did her usual "so easy, just namak-laal-mirch and lehsan (garlic)". Aah garlic. The tiniest smidge was what my dahi baingan was missing and suddenly all was right again. Incidentally, NamakLaalMirch - always said as one word - is a Pakistani recipe must have. Namak=Salt and Laal Mirch= Red Chilli Powder. It is probably for South Asian food what salt and pepper is for much of the world. But if anyone in my family is giving you a recipe then it is always said as one word because they are considered so inextricably linked. Making an omelette? Put in NamakLaalMirch. Aaloo ki Sabzi? NamakLaalMirch. It's all NamakLaalMirch.
As followers of my blog know, I adore a good raita and already have a recipe for a Palak/Spinach Raita and for this killer Sabzi Raita (a total must try). This Dahi Baingan a.k.a Baingan ka Raita is one I enjoy making and eating because it is such a simple way to make a meal delicious. I will happily have it with store bought Aalu Parathas. Yes, I said store bought, I am not industrious enough yet to make my own. It is also so yummy with a simple Matar Pulao (Pea Pilaf).
Usually I like to give quantities for every thing, but in Dahi Baingan or Baingan ka Raita there is no magic ratio that you have to abide by. I happened to have two small eggplants left so I worked with that, but you can easily scale up or down as needed. You see, the eggplant gets layered according to the dish you are using so the bigger the dish the more eggplant you need, the yogurt will vary accordingly as will the NamakLaalMirch. The garlic is the only one you have to be careful with, it can easily become unpleasantly much so keep it to a modest amount.
As a quick note there is a Baingan ka Bharta based raita too, one in which you roast a whole big eggplant and use the flesh. My sister in law makes that one extraordinarily well and I have tried her recipe several times to delicious effect, but am not sharing that one today. Partially because I keep losing the piece of paper I write it on.
Sliced eggplants pan fried and covered in tangy yogurt
- 2 Small (Indian/Pakistani) Eggplants
- 1 ½ cup Yoghurt
- Red Chilli Powder
- ⅛ tsp Garlic
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 3-4 whole red chillies
- 1 sprig curry leaves (kari pata)
Slice the eggplant into slim rounds, about ½ cm
Heat oil in a frying pan and fry on medium heat until one side turns golden (about 2 minutes), then flip and cook the other side (closer to 1 minute). Cook in batches & drain on paper towels
Sprinkle lightly w salt and put a layer down in the dish you are using
Now whip the yogurt, salt, red chilli powder and garlic together with a little water. Adjust for consistency (I like mine on the thicker side) and then adjust seasoning. It should taste positively tangy.
Gently pour over your sliced eggplant
If you did not burn your eggplant you can reuse some of that oil, it will be less pretty than 'fresh' oil but tastier. Either way put 1 ½ tbsp of oil in a small pan and heat.
Slice the garlic into thin rounds and add to the pan along with the rest of the ingredients.
Cook the garlic so that it is golden on each side and then gently pour the baghaar/tadka on top of the raita.
TIP: If you want the baghaar to be a prettier color add a tiny bit of red chilli flakes after you take it off the heat, they will give the oil a redder color.
If you want to roast the eggplant in the oven simply drizzle it lightly with olive oil and put in the oven at 375 degrees. Roast 3-4 minutes on each side.