Baingan Ka Raita (Eggplant Raita)
Have you tried this raita? If you are from the beautiful province of Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa I am sure you already have a killer recipe of this raita and if you know anyone from the lovely city of Peshawar, they must have introduced you to this special version. My in laws had spent a couple of decades in Peshawar. They knew a lot about the history, culture and traditions of the city. They spoke sweet language Pashto fluently and of course they were familiar with the local food as well. My mother in law used to make this raita and I learned it from her. Honestly I thought there were only cucumber, potato and loki (gourd) raita as I saw these varieties in Karachi where I grew up but this unique raita made it’s mark and became a permanent feature of my party menu. Perfect way to sneak in more vegetables since our dawat/party food is renowned to be meat based.
This is so simple and easy to make yet it appears so fancy. It starts with nice, firm and round eggplant slices. It is better to have smaller rounds of the vegetable but you can always cut them in halves if you have a bigger eggplant. Slice them thin because thick slices would take longer to cook and won’t be as flavorful. After slicing eggplant, sprinkle both sides with salt and red chilli powder. Keep as mild or as spicy as you like. This seasoning will also prevent quick browning of the cut eggplant. Please do not cut and dip eggplant in water! Prep when you are ready to fry them. After slicing and seasoning, heat some oil in the frying pan and place them in single layer. It is important not to crowd the pan. Give 3-4 minutes and then flip the side and brown the other side. Keep the flame to medium or low medium because we need to cook them properly while browning them to perfection. High flame will burn the vegetable. These two steps are crucial to develop deep flavors; seasoning and browning of eggplant slices.
Once all slices of eggplant are shallow fried, arrange them in serving platter. I prefer overlapping them. While eggplant is frying, there is enough time to season yogurt …. can not have raita without yogurt, can we? Use good quality, thick and unsweetened yogurt as it effects the appearance and taste of raita. Beat it well to make it smooth. Add seasonings to yogurt. This step can also vary depending on your preference. I season with chat masala, salt, touch of red chilli powder and white cumin. You can up the spice game with garam masala powder or crushed chilli flakes.
Pour seasoned yogurt over eggplant slices to cover them completely. Garnish is optional. I have been told that some like to pour some tempered oil/tarka over yogurt as a finishing touch using chopped onion, tomatoes and white cumin. Personally, I like adding some raw chopped onion and tomatoes for some texture variation without oil temper as eggplant has already been fried and it is known to absorb a lot of oil. A little extra sprinkle of white cumin and/or chat masala also work for me.
Once raita is ready, let it rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour or so. It helps all the flavors to get to know each other and eggplant will get more flavorful. Serve with any curry or karahi or rice. One thing to keep in mind… just like any vegetable based raita, this one might also release water once a few scoops are taken out or if this raita is left at room temperature for long. It is best served the day it is made and consumed within a day or two.
Another special treat from Peshawar. This raita goes well with any desi dish.
- 1 small eggplant, washed and thinly sliced with skin
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- 5-6 tbsp cooking oil
- 500 gm thick, unsweetened yogurt
- ½ tsp white cumin
- ⅔ tsp chat masala
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp salt
- chopped onion, for garnish
- chopped tomato, for garnish
- white cumin, for garnish
Sprinkle salt and red chilli powder on both sides of thinly sliced eggplant.
Heat 2-3 tablespoon cooking oil in a frying pan. Put a single layer of eggplant slices.
Let them cook for about 3-4 minutes over low medium flame and then flip to cook the other side.
Eggplant should be well browned but not burnt.
Remove from the frying pan. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices.
In a a bowl, beat yogurt with salt, chat masala, red chilli powder and white cumin till smooth.
Arrange fried eggplant slices in a dish and pour beaten yogurt.
Garnish with chopped onion, chopped tomatoes and white cumin.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.