Baingan Achari is a mouthwatering side-dish that cashes in on the great Indian obsession with pickles. Indian pickles, called achar in north India, are quite different from the pickles we eat here in the United States. They are made with all sorts of vegetables– mango and lemon being the more popular choices– and they are fiery red with bold tones of tart and hot that tease your tastebuds and whet your appetite.
The reason why pickles taste so special are a couple of very special spices that go into them: nigella seeds, or kalonji, and fennel seeds, or saunf. Baingan Achari takes the alchemy of those spices and puts them to work in a subzi, or a side dish, that is much quicker– and easier — to make than a jar of pickles, and has about the same effect on the appetite.
In my eggplant-loving home Baingan Achari is always a popular choice for dinner. But the last time I had a craving for this dish I didn’t have any eggplant on hand. I did have some mushrooms, though, so I thought, why not?
My Mushroom Achari tasted so great, I couldn’t wait to share it. The spongy mushrooms soak up all the goodness and flavor of the spices and you can use just about any kind of mushroom– button, cremini, shiitake, portabella are all good here. This is also a very versatile dish that you can soak up with a roti or naan or serve up alongside some dal and rice.
This is a short post because life’s busy right now, but I will be back soon with more. I have been doing more experimenting with gluten-free baking and cooking, and last Sunday I made some pancakes that I am dying to share.
For now, here’s the Mushroom Achari. Enjoy, all!
(Makes 10 servings)
1 pound mushrooms (I used cremini), cut into halves or quarters depending on their size. You want the pieces to be chunky and not too small. Keep in mind that mushrooms shrink when cooked.
1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1/2 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
1 tbsp coriander seed powder
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large tomatoes, finely diced
Salt to taste
1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Add the nigella and fennel seeds and toast for about two minutes over medium-low heat until they release their distinct aroma.
Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry quickly for 10-15 seconds. Add the tomatoes with all of their juices. Stir to mix.
Add the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne and mix well. Let the tomatoes cook until they darken and shimmer, about 7-8 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and salt to taste. Stir to mix well and let the mushrooms cook for another 5-7 minutes until they are tender but not soggy.
Turn off the heat and stir in the coriander leaves.
Serve piping hot.