Begun Kasundi (Brinjals in Bengali Mustard Sauce)

Cuisine: Bengali

Duration: 30 min

Serves: 4

Emperor Akbar was discussing about brinjals with Birbal one day. He said that the nutritious vegetable was a delicacy. Birbal agreed to this notion and even sang two songs in praise of it.

After a couple of days, the royal chef cooked brinjal curry for lunch. Being served, Akbar refused to eat the curry and said it was a tasteless vegetable which lacked nutrition and was full of seeds. He then asked that it be served to Birbal who loved brinjals, but he too refused it impatiently saying that it was not good for health. The king did not understand and asked why he had sung the brinjal’s praise only a few days ago.

Birbal replied that he had praised the brinjal only because the emperor did the same and followed Akbar’s cue when the latter criticised it, as he was a loyal subject. Birbal quipped, the brinjal could at no circumstance make him a reverend, even after a long list of appreciation. Akbar was impressed with the wit and boldness in the courtier’s reply.

So the humble brinjal not only illustrates a management moral, but can also weave magic when cooked with one of the most iconic bengali flavours – ‘Kasundi’. Do not mistake it for just another mustard sauce, it is the stuff of legends and a taste of home for the quintesssential Bong.


  • 2 brinjals
  • Mustard oil as needed
  • 1 tbsp kasundi (Bengali mustard sauce) 
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp onion paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste


  • Marinate the brinjals with turmeric powder and salt.
  • In a pan, heat some mustard oil and fry the brinjals. Keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add black cumin, dry red chillies, ginger paste, garlic paste and onion paste.
  • Cook well until the raw smell goes off.
  • Add turmeric powder, salt and sugar to taste. Mix all the ingredients well.
  • Add little water and let it boil.
  • Add the fried brinjals.
  • Let the gravy dry up a little, before adding kasundi and mix it well.
  • Lastly drizzle some mustard oil just before serving.