August 22, 2012

Stuffed Brinjal Curry

   I love Andhra cuisine! Most varieties of 'pappus','podis','kuras' are mouth watering and very tasty mainly because of the famous Guntur red chilly and groundnuts, I suppose. My first brush with andhra style of cooking was when I got to stay with a very close telugu family friend of mine (my favorite Latha aunty), for an extended period of time. I got a taste of 'Meerakai Pacchadi', 'Pesarettu and Upma', 'Khaja from Kakinada' and a variety of Andhra specialities. Then again, when I moved to Bangalore, I stayed with my Aruna aunty (also from Andhra) and got to taste her awesome 'Stuffed Brinjal kura'. If you love spicy food, then tasting this is a must, in my opinion :) Aruna aunty always made her stuffed brinjals with the powdered stuffing from her native place. And it was always a dry fry, made with very little oil in a small cooker. She always used the freshest brinjals to make these. She would slit the brinjals, stuff them with the powder and place them in the cooker and allow them to fry without actually closing the cooker lid. After a while she would toss the brinjals gently. This kura or vegetable was a favorite of mine, especially with curd rice. Since then, it has always been my interest to learn to make this wonderful dish. As luck would have it, I found many recipes online, tried a few, but none came close to what my aunt used to make. The one I am writing now has become somewhat of a favorite of mine, as it evokes memories of the time I spent with both my aunt's. 

Stuffed Brinjal Curry

Small brinjals - 6 to 8 (I prefer the purple ones to the green ones as they have lesser seeds)
Onions - 2 large ones
Tomatoes - 3 plum or 1 beefsteak tomatoes (add more if you want more gravy)
Tamarind - half lemon size (add a lime sized ball if you want a sour gravy)
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp for seasoning
Salt - to taste
Powder for stuffing - (dried coconut + roasted peanuts + roasted sesame seeds + urad dal + chana dal + cumin seeds + dried red chillies + cinnamon stick + cloves + salt)
(refer to the 'Stuffed brinjal powder' in the 'Powders and Pickles' menu item for full details)
Jaggery - small pellet
Mustard - 1/2 tsps
Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few

Slit brinjals stuffed with wet paste

1) Chop the onions finely and grind the tomatoes into a fine paste. You can also use store bought tomato puree if you like. You can add chopped tomatoes if you wish, but I feel grinding them gives you more quantity of curry. Wash the brinjals and remove the green stem. Dry them on a paper towel and slit them vertically without breaking them. Take about 4 tbsps of the stuffing( I shall call it 'brinjal powder') add few drops of water to it to make a paste and stuff this paste into the slits of each brinjal. You can also stuff the brinjals with the dry powder instead of making a paste. Soak tamarind in water for half hour and extract the juice. Keep aside.
2) Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. I prefer to use the cooker for this curry as it is much faster. When the oil is hot, season it with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. Add the chopped onions, a little salt for the onions and fry till onions are translucent. 
3) Now add the pureed/ chopped tomatoes and fry till it is cooked. Add the tamarind extract and salt to taste. Any leftover brinjal powder paste can be added to the curry, together with another tbsp of the same.Gently place the brinjals one by one, the slit side facing upwards, into the curry. Add a small piece of jaggery for taste. Close the cooker and place the weight. Simmer the cooker for a minute or two when you hear the whistle and then switch off. Allow the cooker to cool a little before opening it. That way the brinjals would have been cooked just well enough. Serve this curry with hot rice.

Brinjals ready to be placed in the curry. The green one was a trial brinjal :) 

Curry with onion, tomatoes, tamarind extract and brinjal powder

Brinjals placed in the curry to be cooked

Brinjal curry done!

Note: This is a curry recipe and not a dry fry, but you could use the brinjal powder to make a dry fry. Slit the brinjals, stuff the powder and place it in a kadai with few tablespoons of oil. Season the oil and add the brinjals to the same. Allow it to fry, taking care to turn over the brinjals from time to time till done. In the above recipe, I have added a small piece of jaggery and it truly enhances the taste of the the essential sweet-sour flavor. You can omit the jaggery, if you wish to savor only a sour taste.

Serving size: This curry will be enough for 2 people for 2 servings. Increase the quantity of all ingredients to serve more people.

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