I recently discovered Kashmiri cuisine. As part of my research, I have been reading up on different cuisines across the world and that is when I stumbled upon this wonderful cuisine. Kashmiri food is known for its unique flavors and use of herbs and ingredients which are very different from the cooking in the other parts of India. This makes the cuisine very distinctly flavorful. The spices commonly used in its cooking are saffron, cardamom, fennel seeds, ginger powder, nuts along with yogurt and ghee. Knowing this, opened a whole new world for me. I had never cooked with certain spices yet and this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to try them. I was already excited.
Kashmir is the Switzerland of India! It’s extremely beautiful and scenic with snow-clad mountains and lakes. There are many Bollywood movies shot here as well. It’s got so much more to it than what we read about in media. I just feel that we as Indians do not maintain this natural beauty as we should be doing. The bright red apples from Kashmir as well handmade artifacts are very famous and are exported worldwide. The Kashmir Valley is also noted for its bakery tradition. On the picturesque Dal Lake in Kashmir or in downtown Srinagar, bakery shops are in plentiful. While reading about its food and habits, I recollected my visit to this wonderful state to bring in my birthday in 2012. I loved being there every second. We had stayed in a boathouse on Dal Lake and toured the whole place on a four-wheeler. Fun trip it was!
While we were in Srinagar, we ventured out to try the local food. Suggested by some locals, we went to this small yet very popular restaurant which was situated on a boat. The interior was done up artistically with lots of carvings and paintings. They welcomed us with their traditional drink called Kahwah (green tea made with saffron, spices and nuts) and it was delicious. I had never tasted anything like that before. The food that followed was truly mouth-watering. We had pulav, curry, naan and desserts. Back then I didn’t delve more into it as I would have now as a food blogger. I was just a regular tourist enjoying the local food.
Today I really wish I had paid more attention to the flavors and spices used then. It would have helped me recreate some of the dishes now. However today we have the internet to the rescue. While browsing online for Kashmiri recipe ideas I came across this one on Maayeka.com – Kashmiri Dahi Baingan. Luckily I had an eggplant lying in the fridge. It was a leftover from the Baingan Bharta I had made the other day. Plus all the other ingredients were in my pantry too. It was as if I was meant to make this dish that day. I quickly got down to business. Chop the eggplant into medium size pieces. Deep fry them and strain the excess oil on paper towel. Set them aside. In another bowl, whisk yogurt. Take another bowl and add spices like freshly ground fennel seeds, ginger powder, chilly powder and turmeric powder. Add water to it and mix it to make a paste. Keep this aside as well.
In a pan, heat mustard oil. Fry the cardamom and asafoetida. Now add the spice powder paste and saute it for 2 minutes. The pleasant aroma of frying these spice powders will spread in your kitchen. It’s heavenly. Once the paste is all dried up, add the beaten yogurt. Give it a good mix. Keep whisking to prevent it from curdling. Once the mixture thickens take it off the flame.
Add the fried eggplant pieces before serving. It tastes best when served with rice.
The taste of this Kashmiri Dahi Baingan is very similar to kadhi (popular Indian dal recipe made with yogurt) but the flavors of fennel seeds and ginger overpowers the taste. The fried eggplants blend in well too. It needs minimal time and effort to make this dish. It’s a course you can definitely make for dinner for your family! They will love it for sure.
- 1 big eggplant
- 1.5 cup yogurt
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp ginger powder
- 3 tsp chilly powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3-4 tbsp water
- 2-3 cardamom
- Pinch of asafoetida
- Salt as required
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- Oil for frying
- Chop the eggplant into medium size pieces. Deep fry them and strain the excess oil on paper towel. Set them aside. In another bowl, whisk yogurt. Take another bowl and add spices like freshly ground fennel seeds, ginger powder, chilly powder and turmeric powder. Add water to it and mix it to make a paste. Keep this aside as well.
- In a pan, heat mustard oil. Fry the cardamom and asafoetida. Now add the spice powder paste and saute it for 2 minutes. The pleasant aroma of frying these spice powders will spread in your kitchen. It's heavenly. Once the paste is all dried up, add the beaten yogurt. Give it a good mix. Keep whisking to prevent it from curdling. Once the mixture thickens take it off the flame.
- Add the fried eggplant pieces before serving. It goes best with rice.
- You can add garlic powder in the spice powder mix if you want to give it a different flavor.
Kashmiri Dahi Baingan is a no onion, no garlic, vegetarian recipe using eggplants. Its cooked in yogurt and whole spices gravy giving it a new texture and flavor. its best served with warm rice. It is one of the popular dishes from the Kashmiri cuisine. I am so glad that I tried this recipe. It was fun using new spices like fennel seeds and ginger powder and I plan to use them more often now. Recipes like this helps me push the envelope and try new dishes which I would have never even tasted before. I am loving this role as a food blogger even more now!
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