Kaththirikkaai is the Tamil name for eggplant/brinjal/aubergine. I first had this dish at my dear friend Bamini's place during my undergrad days (about 6 years back). Her Mom had made it along with a few other wonderful treats for lunch that day. I forgot all about this dish until a couple of weeks back. I immediately called Bamini's Mom and tried her recipe. It felt so good to have it after so many years with exact taste and flavor that I was looking for.
Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):
Small/baby eggplants - about 8 to 10 cut into 4 quarters almost up to the stalks (the idea is to use the whole eggplant with the stalk so that the stuffing doesn't fall out)
Cooking oil - about 2 to 3 tablespoons
Tamarind soaked in warm water - about the size of a small lemon
(If using paste, about 3/4 teaspoon of it)
Asafoetida - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a few
Sugar or jaggery - 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
To dry fry and grind into a coarse powder:
Channa dhal - 1.5 tablespoons
Urad dhal - 1.5 tablespoons
Dried red chillies - 4 to 5
Coriander seeds - 1 tablespoon
1. Extract about 1.5 cups (using a measuring cup) of tamarind juice from the soaked tamarind or dilute the paste to yield about 1.5 cups (using a measuring cup) of tamarind water and set aside.
2. Dry fry channa dhal, urad dhal, dried red chillies and coriander seeds one after the other, grind into a coarse powder, mix with asafoetida and some salt and set aside.
3. Stuff the slit eggplants with the powder from step 2 and set the remaining powder aside.
4. In a pan, heat some cooking oil, pop mustard seeds, add curry leaves and place the stuffed eggplants neatly and cook evenly by turning them until they become soft. This roughly takes about 15 - 20 minutes on medium heat.
5. Once the eggplants are soft, add the remaining powder from step 3 and saute for 2 minutes.
6. Add the tamarind water from step 1 to step 5, some more salt if necessary and bring it to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes on medium heat or until the rawness of the tamarind goes away.
7. Add the sugar/jaggery to step 6, mix in well and turn off the stove.
This goes very well with steamed rice and also yogurt rice. I hope you all like it :-).
This recipe goes to Sanghi's Fall in Love - Brinjal event. I dedicate this to my boyfriend who is a big time brinjal fan :-).