A rich slow cooked curry with a sesame peanut base. One of the classic curries you will find as the ‘veg’ option next to palak paneer in any self respecting Pakistani davat (party) buffet line up.
Personally I love begharay bengan. It is one of my favourite veg curries.
What is Begharay Bengan?
Begharay refers to the tempering or roasting the spices in oil before adding them to the curry. Bengan refers to eggplants. The recipe uses a base of coconut flakes, peanuts and sesame seeds. Some recipes stuff the eggplant with the mixture and some just slice the egg plant, leaving the stem intact and let it soak up all that rich flavour right from the curry. I like adding some of the curry base to the eggplant for that extra layer of flavour but you can skip this step if you like.
Vegan Pakistani Curries
There are so many great vegan curry options. Begharay Bengan is obviously a great option. Here’s a few more I love:
- Muttar Pulao
- Kabuli Pulao
- Palak Paneer (sub Tofu for paneer)
- Instant Pot Paneer Biryani (sub Tofu for paneer)
- Perfect Crispy Veg Pakoras
Do you have a favourite veg desi dish?
Begharay Bengan – Eggplant Curry (Veg)
- 6 baby eggplants
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp onion seeds [kalonji]
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 1/4 tsp ginger-garlic paste
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 2 green chili chopped
- 1 small onion chopped fine
- 1/4 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp red chili powder or paprika for a milder flavour
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika powder
- 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
- 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
- water as needed
- salt salt
- coriander leaves for garnish
For the Curry Base
- 4 Tbsp peanuts or cashews
- 1 Tbsp tahini paste
- 3 Tbsp coconut flakes (unsweetened)
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
- water as needed
Make Curry Base
- In a shallow pan on medium heat, dry roast the coconut, peanuts, sesame seeds and poppy seeds for 5-6 minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a blender.
- Add the tahini and a little water (1-2 tsp) and blend it to a fine paste. Set aside.
Cut & Stuff the Eggplant
- Cut the baby egg plant by making an x on the bottom, but don't cut all the way through to the stem so it remains in tact.
- Sprinkle inside with a pinch of salt and add 1 tsp of the curry base mixture. Set aside and repeat for the remaining baby eggplants.
Cook the Curry
- In a pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat.
- Add the eggplants and cook on medium heat, turning often until the eggplants are little softened, around 10-12 minutes. You don't want them to be too soft, they will not be cooked all the way through, but that is ok.
- Remove the eggplants from pan and place on a kitchen towel.
- In the same pan add 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Once the oil is hot add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add 1/4 tsp each of onion seeds and fennel seeds.
- Add chopped green chilli and curry leaves and mix.
- Add chopped onions and cook, stirring often, until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste and cook till the raw smell goes away, around 2-3 minutes.
- Once the ginger-garlic is cooked, add the dry spices – 1/4 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and salt to taste. Mix well to combine.
- Cook the spices for 2-3 minutes, add around 1/2 cup of water to make sure spices don't burn.
- Now add the remaining curry base paste to the pan.
- Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp paprika powder and cook for 5-6 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Add the previously fried eggplant into the curry.
- Add 2 cups of water, cover and cook the curry on medium-low flame for 15-20 minutes until the eggplants are cooked all the way through.
- Add 1/4 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp tamarind paste, sugar, if using, and mix. Allow to come to a boil and adjust flavour for salt and spice.
- Turn off the heat and add some fresh coriander leaves and serve immediately.