Panch Phoron Dahi Baingan – Pan fried baby eggplants layered in a dish with alternating layers of Indian masala and whisked yogurt.
Topped with a tadka (tempering) of curry leaves, dried red chilies & panch phoron (five spice mix) this Dahi Baingan makes a great vegetarian dish to serve at a party or just when you want to enjoy eggplants in a different way!
My hands always grab the bottle of panch phoron when I am cooking eggplants in an Indian way.
This has to do with the fact that my mom used panch phoron in aloo baingan all the time, so I was used to that flavor.
Of course, there was no panch phoron in baingan bharta, but the simple aloo baingan always had it.
For those who don’t know, panch phoron is five spice mix and consists of cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, kalonji (nigella seeds), mustard seeds and fennel seeds.
It’s a popular spice mix in eastern parts of India especially. My mom added it to several stir-fries and to chutneys. My cookbook in fact has a panch phoron tomato chutney which I absolutely love.
This Dahi Baingan recipe is inspired from several eggplant-yogurt combination recipes that I have tried over the last few years- pakistani dahi baingan (this recipe), then the bengali doi begun and the Afghani borani banjan.
I combined all of these recipes and came up with this Panch Phoron Dahi Baingan Recipe. It has layers of pan fried eggplant, masala layer with panch phoron and topped with a tadka of curry leaves and dried red chilies.
It is so flavorful you guys and makes such a nice change if you are bored of eating eggplant the same way.
This Dahi Baingan
✔ is easy to put together.
✔ makes a great dish for parties.
✔ can be made ahead in ahead.
✔ served cold or room temperature, so great for potlucks!
I have used baby eggplant here and I think they work better for this recipe. However, you may use a regular sized eggplant too.
The baby eggplant makes the slices bite size and that’s better for serving purposes.
The first time I ever had an eggplant and yogurt combination dish was at a Afghani restaurant in Seattle. That dish was borani banjan and I fell in love with it at the first bite.
This was not a combination that was made in my house so it was totally new to me but one that I instantly loved.
It was afterwards that I tried several other ways of preparing eggplant with yogurt and loved all of them. This recipe is my take on all the yogurt & eggplant combination dishes that I have tasted in all these years.
There is something so simple about this dish. It’s simple in approach but big on flavors.
It has alternating layers of the fried eggplant, masala and yogurt and all topped with a beautiful tadka of curry leaves and dried chilies and garnished with cilantro.
You can deep-fry the eggplants here but I have pan-fried them.
One of the best part about this dish is that it is served cold or at room temperature. That makes it ideal to make ahead for parties.
Just make it a day in advance, pop it in the fridge and it will be ready to serve the next day.
My favorite part about this dish is definitely the panch phoron. It elevates the flavors of the dish! The fennel, cumin, fenugreek, nigella seeds all complement the eggplant beautifully.
I like to layer this in the same dish in which I plan to serve it. So I have used a small dutch oven here, you can use a square or rectangular serving dish too.
1- Wash and slice the baby eggplants in 1/4 inch thick rounds. Heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat in a wide pan. Once hot, add the sliced eggplants in a single layer in the pan.
2- You might need to do this in two rounds since all the slices won’t fit in the pan in one turn. Fry each batch until eggplant sliced are golden brown and cooked through, around 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once in between.
3- Once done, place the eggplant slices on a plated lined with paper towel. Fry all slices similarly and set aside.
4- Meanwhile, make the masala. In another pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 teaspoon panch phoron. Wait until the seeds sizzle and mustard seeds pop.
5- Add the chopped onion, stir and then add the ginger-garlic paste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until onion soften.
6- Lower the heat and add all the spices- coriander, cumin, amchur, kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala along with salt.
7- Stir and add water.
8- Let the masala simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or so on low heat. Remove pan from heat.
9- Whisk yogurt in a large bowl with pinch sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth.
10- Now, start layering the dish. To layer the dish, take your serving dish. I used a small dutch oven here.
Brush the bottom of the pot with 1 tablespoon of yogurt.
11- Drop some of the masala over the yogurt, around 1-2 teaspoons and then place 1/3rd of the eggplant slices on top (divide eggplant slices in 3 equal parts).
12- Again add some of the masala on top of eggplant.
13- Followed by 1/3 to 1/2 cup of yogurt. Spread the yogurt to completely cover it.
14, 15 & 16- Top with masala again, next 1/3rd of eggplant slices and followed by yogurt (around 1/3 cup).
17, 18 & 19- Again last layer of eggplant (you can reserve few to garnish at top) topped with all the remaining masala (reserve a teaspoon to spread on top) and topped with all the remaining yogurt.
20- Place the remaining 1 teaspoon masala on top.
21- Use a toothpick to swirl the masala around and create a pattern. If you have saved any eggplant pieces, place them on top, dip them in little yogurt and then place (this is for presentation purpose only).
22- For the tadka, heat oil. Once hot, add 1/4 teaspoon panch phoron and let the seeds sizzle and mustard seeds pop.
23- Then dried red chili and curry leaves and turn off the heat.
24- Pour tadka over the dish. Sprinkle chopped cilantro all over.
Serve Dahi Baingan cold or at room temperature with any bread of choice. It will go well with naan or pita bread.