Eggplant/ Brinjals/ Baingan/ Vankaai/ Katharikkai is used extensively in different types of cooking. It develops a pleasant flavour when cooked with spices and tastes heavenly specially when added to Sambhar or Kuzhambu varieties. I am tempted to pick brinjals , everytime I go Vegetable shopping in Little India, simply because I am attracted to all possible shades of violets that is displayed. My husband's choice is the white variety and mine is the violet that looks more attractive when placed next to the white ones. But one should select the Brinjals with care and free of beetles, fleas and mites.
Last Saturday my husband Srivatsan announced that he was going to prepare Stuffed Katharikkai Kuzhambu for us. As I ve already mentioned that he is a great cook I am more than happy to share this blog space with him. I am planning to upload few of his signature recipes too soon. He used to prepare this Kuzhambu very often and turned out to be a big hit among his friends during his student days in US and London. He has also prepared this a couple of times for me and I love it a loooot. Vaazhga Katharikkaai!!!. I owe a special thanks to my Father In Law Mr.Vijayaraghavan who helped stuff the Eggplants. And here s the recipe for you.
Eggplants - 6 to 8 small equal sized, (white or purple)
Toor dal - 3 tbsp
Dhaniya seeds - 3 tbsp
Black peppers – a few
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp;
Red Chillies - 5/6
Fenugreek seeds - ½ tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp;
Asafoetida as required;
Tamarind paste - Puree extracted from Amla sized Tamarind
Turmeric Powder - 1 tsp
Sambar powder - 2 to 3 tbsp
Chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Refined Oil - 8 tbsp (4tbsp for spice mix and 4tbsp to sauté eggplants
Gingely Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - To taste
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry Leaves - 2 to 3 twigs
Step 1- Prepare a spice mixture for filling in the egg plants:
- In a kadai to roast Toor dal, Dhaniya seeds,Black peppers,Cumin seeds,Red Chillies,Fenugreek seeds and Coconut with 3-4 tbsp of Refined oil or Sunflower oil until golden brown and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.
- Grind them into a paste to a consistency of chutney. Add little salt to the paste and mix well.
- Slice the egg plants from bottom after removing the crown, 3/4 ths through them. Do NOT cut them into individual slices.
- Use a bread knife or a suitable spoon to fill the eggplant with the spice mixture and leave it aside for 10 minutes. (see picture)
- Roast the stuffed egg plants on a flat pan or on a wide bottomed kadai so that they have enough room to be turned over for roasting. Ensure that the egg plants are evenly rolled over on the pan to be roasted until they turn a bit dark and shrunken. The egg plants after roasting should be intact without the slits opening up. (see picture)
- Never use a ladle to roast. Roll them over on the pan by merely holding the pan/vessel handles.
Step 2 - Prepare the curry:
- Extract tamarind puree as desired and heat it in a wide bottomed kadai or vessel.Add 1 tsp of turmeric powder and salt as desired and heat until broth.
- Mix into the broth, any remaining spice mixture. If not, add 2-3 tbsp of sambar powder and 1 tbsp of chilli powder. Mix well and leave it in low flame to simmer for about 6- 8 minutes.
- Ensure that the curry is slightly thick and not too diluted. If dilute, make a mixture of water and 2 tbsp of besan flour (gram flour) and add it to the broth until it thickens.
- Once the curry as mentioned above is ready, slowly drop the roasted egg plants and leave them to cook inside the broth for about 3-5 minutes.Garnish them with sputtered mustard seeds and curry leaves. Pour 2 tbsp of gingely oil into the Kuzhambu.
- This Kuzhambu tastes good with Raw, par boiled or Basmathi rice mixed with a teaspoon of ghee and served hot with fried Appalams or Vadagams.
- You can saute chopped onions or shallots and add it along with the eggplants while boiling.
- Avoid Garlic as it dominates the taste of other ingredients.