Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Ennai Kathrikai Kuzhambu (Brinjal/Eggplant in a Tangy Sauce)

Ennai Kathrikai Kuzhambu (Brinjal/Eggplant in a Tangy Sauce)

I cannot have enough of eggplant and especially the variety of them that I used to get in India. My recent visit to the Indian grocery shop gave me the chance to pick the thin long variety of violet eggplants. I pounced on that opportunity and while piling bags of it, had already made up my mind that I want to try ‘ennai kathrikai kuzhambu’. It was a mistake to shop on empty stomach cos I was drooling over the veggies as I picked the good ones. I have not made this particular recipe before but based on what I have tasted in the past, just put together a recipe. I had also googled quickly to ensure I was not miles away from what others would call ‘ennai kathrikai’. Honestly, it does not matter what it was called, I was looking for a spicy, tangy eggplant loaded recipe and here it is. Although most people may prefer to use the smaller round variety of eggplants for this, I had no choice. No regrets as it came out super yummy. For those unfamiliar with the name of the dish, ‘ennai’ refers to oil and ‘kathrikai’ refers to eggplant. Yes, there is little point in cutting back on the oil but don’t go overboard.

6-8 eggplants, slit into four with their stalk intact
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon channa dal
3 dry red chillies
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 ½ teaspoons tamarind paste
½ teaspoon chilly powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek powder or ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
Cooking oil
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste

Roast coriander seeds until aromatic, channa dal until golden brown, red chillies until it turns darker, sesame seeds until it pops. Cool and grind to fine powder

Stuff the ground powder generously into the slit eggplant.

Arrange all of the eggplants in a saucepan and drizzle oil on each of them and also sprinkle salt just enough for the eggplants

Cook covered stirring in between until the eggplants are cooked

In the meantime, heat oil in another saucepan and add mustard seeds and once it splutters, add the fenugreek seeds/powder, asafoetida and turmeric powder and two cups water with tamarind paste andboil until about 25% of it evaporates

Add salt, chilly powder and couple of spoons of the leftover powder ground to stuff the eggplants. Simmer and as it begins to thicken, add this mixture to the cooked eggplant and boil briefly. You may need to add bit more water depending on how think you like but also remember that it thickens as it cools. Mine was a bit watery so I made a paste using one teaspoon rice flour and added it. Allow to boil so the rice flour cooks.

Serve hot with freshly steamed rice and a dollop of ghee or oil

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