Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ennai Kathrikai (Masala Eggplant)

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Let me begin this post by wishing everyone on the occasion of the Indian Independence day. Today we celebrate our 60th Independence day.
Being married to a Tam Brahm ( that too an Iyer), can a Iyer Veggie dish be far behind on this blog (or flog as I call it ... Foodie Blog that is). So last week was spent trying out this shudh shakahari dish alongwith other carnivorous delights. Having worked in an Iyer Kitchen in a hotel and spending time rummaging through my in-laws kitchen to find a tandoori masala powder, I realised one thing that is the gospel truth, Coconut and Asafoetida are a must have. Another fact, Food typically consists of 3 courses, rice & rasam, rice & sambhar and Curd Rice, the others like chutneys, veg dishes and salads being only relegated to the sidelines. So, going by the courses you must have guessed by now ...Rice is Right.
Don't go by my english recipe name on top (Masala Eggplant), the literal translation of Ennai Kathrikai means Eggplants in oil, with Kathrikai meaning Eggplant ( or Brinjal) and Ennai meaning Oil. Some restaurants also serve it as Eggplant Curry.
8-10 Baby Eggplants
1 Marble size ball of tamarind, soaked in 1/4 cup water,pulped and strained.
Cup Oil 100 ml
5 Curry Leaves
5 gm Mustard seeds
5 gm cumin seeds
10 gm Corriander seeds
5 gm Split Bengal Gram ( Chana Dal)
5 gm Split Black Gram (Urad Dal)
2 Whole Dry Red Chillies
10 gm Black Peppercorn
Asafoetida (Hing) - Pinch
5-6 Curry Leaves
1/4 Cup Coconut, Scraped/grated
5 gm Turmeric Powder
Salt to Taste

1. Fry the masala ingredients except the grated coconut in 2 tsp oil and keep aside to cool. Grind to a powder once cooled.
2. Fry the grated coconut in 2 tsp oil to a reddish brown color. Mix with masala powder and leave to cool.
3.Slit the eggplants from the top, without separating the eggplant into 4 pieces. Check the eggplants from inside for worms or insects.
4. Fill the slit eggplants with the masala.
5. Heat 5 tsp oil in a wok. Add mustard seeds.
6. Once the mustard seeds sputter, add in the curry leaves and the stuffed eggplants. Put the leftover masala on top and cook.
7. Add the tamarind pulp, stir and cook for 15-20 more minutes. If the dish is too dry add in a little more water.
8. Serve Hot.

Note: Please cut the eggplants only after the masala has been prepared. If the eggplants are allowed to sit for long they discolor. You can always add some of the tamarind water to prevent the discoloration.
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