Baingan Masala | Function style Vankaya Masala
Baingan Masala – stir-fried baby eggplants are cooked in a special masala gravy. It is one of the most popular brinjal curries on every Telugu wedding or function menu and is served with rumali roti, puri, bagara rice, vegetable biryani, or plain white rice.
Most Indian weddings or feasts have this luscious food item on top of the menu. The exotic aroma and taste steal the heart of people attending the event.
I first tasted this dish at my cousin’s wedding. The brinjals were coated with a lush, thick, and creamy gravy. Tender brinjals just melt in the mouth. It was a heavenly experience in every bite.
After that, at any wedding, party, a function I used to attend, I was always looking forward to this delicious dish on the menu. To conclude, no Telugu weddings/functions are incomplete without baingan delicacy on the menu.
This baingan masala is for those who like brinjals and for those who hate them. Will request the haters to just try this recipe once, and your hate would turn into love.
I make this dish very often. One of the reasons is, brinjal is available all year round.
What is Baingan Masala?
Baingan masala is nothing but eggplant curry that is popular in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
In Telugu (regional language), it is known as Vankaya (brinjals) kura/koora (curry-based delicacies).
Brinjal is the King of Indian vegetables. It is prepared in many variations such as fry, curry, and stuffed with masala. Depending on the state/region in India, there are different signature dishes of brinjal.
About Baingan Masala recipe
Baingan Masala is a super delicious eggplant curry from Hyderabad. The magic of Hyderabadi baingan masala lies in the medley of nutty paste, a blend of spices, and eggplants cooked twice.
There are many ways to prepare vankaya masala which includes different ingredients and ways to prepare.
I love the addition of roasted sesame seeds, peanuts, dry coconut, and cashew nut paste. In homes, cashews are not added while making brinjal curry. But it’s a mandatory ingredient in curries made for weddings and functions. These are the key ingredients that give a nutty taste and add creaminess to the gravy. This special paste makes the dish unique from other similar recipes.
It’s not about the ingredients but what you do with them. When the brinjals are blended with the right quantities of masala, it enhances the taste of the dish.
To get the function-style flavors at home, you need to cook the same way the catering experts do. The taste of the dish depends on the way you cook it.
A common mistake while cooking at home is that the ingredients are not cooked well. This is one of the differentiators between homestyle and restaurant style.
Traditionally, the brinjals are deep-fried till tender. But, in this recipe, I’ve pan-fried the brinjals until they are semi-cooked. Next, the base gravy is made with onion, tomatoes, ginger-garlic, Indian spices, and nuts paste. The baby eggplants are simmered in the gravy until they are soft, and the curry thickens.
As it’s a function style, the recipe has a generous amount of oil. It’s important that the masala gets cooked well. However, you can feel free to reduce it according to your preference.
There are some important tips and suggestions to make the best baingan masala. Check them below. With the techniques, you’ll learn exactly how to make it.
Authentic function style Baingan masala recipe has 4 steps:
1. Make a smooth paste by roasting nuts and seeds.
2. Eggplants are cut four ways, with a stalk attached and deep-fried.
3. Make a base gravy with onion, tomatoes, spices, herbs, and paste.
4. Add the fried eggplants. Simmer in the gravy till they are mouth-melting tender and oil floats.
Reasons to make Baingan Masala
Baingan masala is a great vegetarian entree.
Rich, thick, creamy, and nutty gravy.
Excellent main course or side dish for lunch or dinner and even for family gatherings, and potluck parties.
Brinjal is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Serve as a main course or side dish.
The gravy has intense flavors.
One of the best dishes to impress your guests.
Ingredients to make Vankaya Masala
Brinjals: Use fresh, small, and tender brinjals.
There are different varieties;
Color: purple, green, white, and greenish-purple.
Size and shape: long brinjal, round brinjal, big brinjal, etc.
For this particular recipe, you can either choose small purple or green brinjals.
For masala paste: oil, cloves, cinnamon stick, mace, stone flower, green cardamom, shahi jeera, peanuts (ground nuts), dry coconut, cashews, sesame seeds (til), and coriander seeds.
For the base gravy: any cooking oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion, tomatoes, ginger garlic paste.
Spice powders: turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala.
Kasuri methi: this is dried fenugreek leaves and is a mandatory ingredient in restaurants and catering styles.
Curry leaves: The herb gives a distinct South Indian flavor. Use fresh leaves for the best aroma.
Coriander leaves to garnish.
Use small and tender brinjals for this recipe. Buy same-size brinjals so that they cook evenly. If the size is uneven, larger brinjals will increase the simmering time and small brinjals will overcook and break from the stem.
Grind the nuts and spices to a smooth paste.
Simmer the fried brinjals on low flame so that all the flavors of gravy emerge into the brinjals.
While frying eggplants do not overcrowd the pan. Cook on both sides on medium flame until the skin begins to blister slightly.
Cook the onions well. Saute them till golden in color. The gravy has to be silky smooth. If the onions are not sauteed well, there will be pieces in the gravy.
Cook the paste well: Though the ingredients are roasted, saute the paste on medium-low heat till the oil separates. One of the secrets of catering style or restaurants is slow cooking for a long time. So, do not skip this step for authentic texture and taste.
Saute the paste stirring frequently: As the paste has peanuts and coconut, the masala will have a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan. So, do not leave it unattended in the pan.
Consistency of the gravy: The curry has to be thick. So, add less water while simmering the brinjals. Once the baingan is cooked through, simmer the curry uncovered for a few minutes till the sauce thickens.
How to make Baingan Masala
Make the masala paste
Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. When hot, turn the flame to low and add peanuts. Saute for a minute.
Add whole spices (cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, shah jeera, stone flower, mace), and coriander seeds, and continue to saute on low flame till peanuts start to change color.
Add dry coconut (grated or thinly sliced) and cashews.
Add sesame seeds and continue to saute on low flame till the coconut changes color.
Remove onto a plate and keep aside till it becomes cool.
Add to a blender and grind to a smooth paste by adding little water. Keep it aside for later.
Saute the Brinjals
First, rinse the brinjals thoroughly to get rid of any dust.
Take a bowl, fill in water and add salt. Mix well.
With a knife, make two vertical cuts on each brinjal. Check inside
Immerse the brinjals in salt water. This will prevent discoloration.
Make the Baingan Masala curry
1. In the same pan add more oil. When hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaf. Let the seeds crackle.
2 & 3. Add the curry leaves and chopped onions. Saute on medium flame till lightly browned.
4. Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
5. Turn the flame to low and add the spice powders – turmeric powder, red chili powder, and coriander powder.
6 & 7. Add 1/4th cup water and cook till the oil separates.
8. Add tomato puree.
9. Turn the flame to medium and saute till moisture reduces and oil is seen on the sides.
10. Add salt and mix well.
11. Add the wet masala paste.
12 & 13. Stir frequently and saute for 5-7 minutes until it’s well cooked.
14. Add the fried brinjals and mix well. With the help of a spatula, open the eggplants and let some of the flavorful masala get inside each brinjal.
15. Add 1/2 cup hot water and give a good stir. Let the water come to a boil. Check for seasoning and add accordingly.
16. Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and check for brinjal’s tenderness (insert a knife). If still uncooked, cover the pan and continue simmering.
17 & 18. Add kasuri methi and garam masala. Give a good mix.
19. Add coriander leaves.
20. Simmer the curry uncovered for a few minutes, allowing the gravy to thicken and oil floats.
Baingan Masala is ready. Serve hot with flatbread or rice.
This delicious baingan masala goes well with Indian bread such as roti, jowar bhakri/roti, plain parathas, rumali rotis, puri, lacha parathas, parotta.
The Hyderabadi Brinjal curry also pairs perfectly well with rice varieties. Below are a few rice recipes:
Storage & Freezing Instructions
I prefer to make baingan masala at least a few hours before or a day ahead. The rest time allows the curry flavors to develop.
If you are planning to make the dish a day in advance, you can make the gravy without brinjals. Cool it to room temperature and store it in the fridge. You can refrigerate the gravy for 3-5 days. On the day of serving, saute the brinjals and simmer in the prepared gravy.
To store beyond, transfer the gravy to freezer-safe boxes and freeze for up to 2 months.
You can make the vankaya masala with many variations. Personally, I like to add drumsticks to this masala curry. Saute drumstick pieces along with brinjals and simmer in the masala paste.
I use the same base gravy and replace brinjals with vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, paneer, or mix vegetables – potatoes, cauliflower, french beans, carrot, and green peas.
If you have tried this authentic and traditional baingan masala recipe, let me know how it turned out in the comments section, and do not forget to rate the recipe. Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.
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Baingan Masala | Function style Vankaya Masala
- 250 gms Brinjals (small size)
- Water to soak
- 1/2 tbsp Salt
- 4-5 tbsp Oil (to fry)
Wet masala for the curry
- 1 tsp Oil
- 3 tbsp Peanuts
- 2 tbsp Dry Coconut
- 1 tbsp Sesame seeds
- 5-7 Cashews
- 3 Cloves (laung)
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick (dalchini)
- 2 small Green Cardamom (elaichi)
- 1/2 tbsp Coriander seeds
For Baingan masala
- 2 medium Bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 large Onion
- 5-7 Curry leaves
- 2 medium Tomato (grind to puree)
- 1 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1/2 tbsp Red chili powder
- 1/2 tsp Garam masala
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves to garnish
To make the masala paste
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. When hot, turn the flame to low and add peanuts. Saute for a minute.
- Add whole spices (cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, shah jeera, stone flower, mace), coriander seeds, and continue to saute on low flame till peanuts start to change color.
- Add dry coconut (grated or thinly sliced) and cashews. Next, add sesame seeds and continue to saute on low flame till coconut changes color.
- Remove on to a plate and keep aside till it becomes cool.
- Add to a blender and grind to a smooth paste by adding little water. Keep it aside for later.
To cut and fry the brinjals
- First, rinse the brinjals thoroughly to get rid of any dust.
- Take a bowl, fill in water and add salt. Mix well.
- With a knife, make two vertical cuts on each brinjal. Check inside
- Immerse the brinjals in salt water. This will prevent discoloration.
To make the Baingan Masala curry
- In the same pan add more oil. When hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaf. Let the seeds crackle.
- Add the curry leaves and chopped onions. Saute on medium flame till lightly browned.
- Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
- Turn the flame to low and add the spice powders – turmeric powder, red chili powder, and coriander powder.
- Add 1/4th cup water and cook till the oil separates.
- Add tomato puree. Turn the flame to medium and saute till moisture reduces and oil is seen on the sides.
- Add salt and mix well.
- Add the wet masala paste. Stir frequently and saute for 5-7 minutes until it’s well cooked.
- Add the fried brinjals and mix well. With the help of a spatula, open the eggplants and let some of the flavorful masala get inside each brinjal.
- Add 1/2 cup hot water and give a good stir. Let the water come to a boil. For a thinner consistency, add 1 cup water.
- Cover the pan and simmer on low flame for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and check for brinjal’s tenderness (insert a knife). If still uncooked, cover the pan and continue simmering.
- Add kasuri methi and garam masala. Give a good mix. Add coriander leaves.
- Simmer the curry uncovered for a few minutes, allowing the gravy to thicken and oil floats.
- Baingan Masala is ready. Serve hot with flatbread or rice.