Khatte Meethe Baingan aka sour and sweet eggplants! If you love eggplants as much as I do are always looking for new ways to enjoy them, then give these a try.
Baby eggplants are cooked with some pickling spices like fennel, nigella and tossed in a sweet and sour curry based made with tamarind and jaggery.
I adore eggplants and can eat them all the time and in all forms. Bharta is of course one of my absolute favorites but these days I like making them in different ways each time.
Last time I got baby eggplants, I made this Dahi Baingan which you guys absolutely loved. Thanks so much for making the recipes that I post and then sharing them with me on social media, it truly means a lot.
This time around when I had some baby eggplants, I thought of giving them a twist and made these Khatte Meethe Baingan.
I love the combination of sour and sweet and that’s exactly what this dish it. Khatte=sour and Meethe=sweet so this recipes combines both the flavors in a spiced dish with eggplants.
My mom always made eggplants with panch phoron (the five spice mix) and I guess that’s why I feel that eggplants go so well with those spices especially fennel and nigella seeds.
I often use the pickling spices with my eggplants recipes like this aloo baingan and dahi baingan and also in these khatte meethe baingan.
This Khatte Meethe Baingan
✔are bursting with flavors.
✔vegan and can be made gluten-free.
✔pairs well with flatbread like roti or paratha.
✔makes a great side with rice and dal/sambar.
This recipes is really easy to make, as with a lot of Indian recipes, the ingredients list might seem long but it’s a rather simple dish. No special skills required here.
Let’s look at the main ingredients for this recipe.
Eggplants: of course the star of the dish. I have used baby Indian eggplants that I got from Indian grocery store here.
Can you make these with a regular size eggplant? Sure, why not, just cut it into 1-inch pieces and follow the recipe as it is.
You definitely don’t exclusively need baby eggplants for this recipe.
Mustard oil: my mom always cooked eggplants (or for that matter any dry sabzi) in mustard oil. I especially feel that eggplants go really well with mustard oil.
Since mustard oil has a strong flavor of it’s own, it adds to the flavor of the dish. As always while cooking with mustard oil, make sure to heat the oil really well before adding seasoning else it will have that raw smell and taste.
You can obviously cook with any oil of choice, but if you have an option to use mustard oil, do use that.
I didn’t use mustard oil to pan fry the eggplants but you can use it there as well.
Tamarind: this is what gives the dish it’s sour taste. I use tamarind concentrate which is easily available at Indian and Asian stores.
If you don’t have the tamarind concentrate, you can soak seedless tamarind in warm water for 20 minutes, then extract the juice and use that in the recipe.
I would not recommend using vinegar for the sourness here, tamarind is what works best here.
Jaggery: this is what gives the dish its sweet taste. I have used powdered jaggery, again available at Indian grocery stores.
If you have a block of jaggery, you can grate it and then use in the recipe.
You may use brown sugar in place of jaggery, though jaggery is preferred because of the taste.
Whole spices: I use pickling spices like cumin seeds, fennel seeds (saunf) and nieglla seeds (kalonji) to temper this dish.
These impart a wonderful aroma and flavor to these khatte meethe baingan.
There’s also whole dried red chilies for flavor and little heat.
Powdered spices: other than the whole spices, I have used powdered spices like turmeric, coriander powder and kashmiri red chili powder for flavor, aroma and color.
If you want to add more heat, consider adding some red chili powder here. I have used only kashmiri red chili powder here, which isn’t very hot and mainly used for color.
Ginger-garlic: for this recipe, I hand pound some fresh ginger, garlic and green chili using a mortar and pestle. Do not use store-bought ginger-garlic paste here. The freshly pounded ginger and garlic gives this dish a lot of flavor.
Also, feel free to add more green chilies here if you prefer extra spice in your food.
Fresh herb: a sprinkle of fresh cilantro is a must in the end, you can even use a mix of mint and cilantro.
But do not skip on the cilantro, it adds a nice aroma.
I served these baingan with roti and dal.
You can also serve these with sambar and rice or with paratha.
1- Cut each baby eggplant lengthwise in 2 parts and then cut each half further in 2 to 3 pieces, around 1-inch each. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil (I used avocado oil here) in a wok on medium heat. Once hot add the eggplants pieces into the pan.
2- Fry for 7 to 8 minutes on medium heat until eggplant is cooked and light brown, it should not be very mushy though. Remove on a plate.
3- Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, crush ginger, garlic and green chili and set aside.
4- To make jaggery-tamarind water, to a small pan add 1/3 cup cup water, 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate and 4 teaspoons jaggery.
Let it come to a boil, once it starts boiling , then let it boil for 4 minutes on medium heat till it slightly thickens. Do not thicken it like a chutney but the it should thicken slightly. Set aside.
5- Now to the same wok, add 1.5 tablespoons mustard oil on medium-high heat. Mustard oil needs to be heated very well before adding the tempering so make sure it’s heated through. I often heat until I see some fumes coming out from the oil, I then remove the pan from heat and then add the tempering and then place the pan back to heat.
Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, kalonji and let them sizzle. Add red chilies and hing and saute few seconds.
6- Add crushed ginger-garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes until ginger-garlic starts changing color.
7- Then add the chopped tomatoes and mix.
8- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
9- Add the tamarind and jaggery concentrate and mix well. Also add 2 tablespoons water and cook for 1 minute
10- Then add spices- coriander, turmeric , kashmiri red chili and salt. Mix well and cook the spices for 1 minute.
11- Add in the pan fried eggplants and mix. Cook for around 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat until all flavors all well combined.
12- Then add the chopped cilantro and mix.
Garnish with more cilantro and serve khatte meethe baingan hot with roti.