Huge thanks to Sangeetha (@ Ghar Ka Khana)for choosing Eggplant as the ingredient for JFI (Jihva for Ingredients) this month. I guess people either just love eggplant or hate it and I happen to be in the extreme eggplant lover’s side. It is one of those veggies that is extremely flexible – stir frying (simple baby eggplant curry) or stuffing (deliciously stuffed gutti vankaya or barli vangi) or jazzing up with cheese (in eggplant parmesan) makes it only more irresistable.
Here is one of many ways of making simple eggplant curry; it requires a little more time that the regular curry, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Vankaya Pulla kura literally translates into Eggplant Tangy Curry. Baby eggplants are boiled in tamarind water and then fried with masala powder to make this tangy-spicy curry. Recipe is from one of our aunt, actually our neighbor next door in India, who is my mom’s dear friend.
Fry the ingredients for masala powder in a ½ tsp oil, let cool and grind into a coarse powder (making it into a coarse powder gives the dish some texture).
Cut eggplants into long thick strips (if the eggplants are very small use them whole, but make “+” cut on one side).
In a saucepan, combine eggplants, tamarind paste, 1tsp salt and ½ cup water. Mix well and bring this mixture to a boil. Simmer till the liquid evaporates, but the pieces are still intact (pieces should not become mushy, so make sure that the only enough water with the veggies when simmering. If there is too much liquid, then drain out the extra water). Keep the cooked pieces aside.
In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil; add the dals for tempering and after they turn golden brown; add the cooked eggplant pieces. Sauté till the pieces turn nice and crispy on the bottom. Add salt (remember that we added salt while boiling) and masala powder; cook for another two minutes.
Enjoy with hot steaming rice and dal. You can use the same technique of boiling with tamarind and sautéing with masala powder for Ridge gourd (beerakaya) and Ivy gourd (dhondakaya).