For the 3rd and last of the marathon under the theme “Cooking with Onions“, I wanted to make an Indian dish. Onions are quintessential ingredient in Indian cooking, so I wanted to make a dish that utilizes onions in a very traditional way.
Ulli Karam (Ulli=Onion, Karam=Red chili or hot spicy in Telugu) is a great base for a number of dishes. A paste of either raw or cooked onions and red chili powder is used as a spread in dosas, mixed with rice or like did today cooked with a veggie. Eggplant (vankaya), Potato (bangaladumpa), Bittergourd (kakarakaya), Ridgegourd (beerakaya), basically any veggie can be used to make a ulli karam kura. Being an eggplant lover, I decided make my curry with eggplant.
Baby eggplants would be perfect, but I only had the long slender Japanese eggplants in the fridge. So I chopped them into chunks and cooked them in the onion gravy. The final dish was so delicious with the melt in your texture of the eggplant complemented with the slightly sweet, but still spicy, onion gravy.
Vankaya Ulli Karam Kura
- 2 Red Onions - medium, chopped
- 3 Eggplant medium Japanese (vankaya/ brinjal) (chopped into 3" chunks -- make a 'X' slit on each of the chunks, so the eggplants are cooked through)*
- 1 - 2 tsps chili powder Red (or as per taste, I used only 1tsp for a mild curry, use more if you can handle some heat)
- 2 tsp Tamarind pulp
- 1 Cinnamon " stick
- 2 tsps Jeera Shah - divided
- 4 Cloves
- 6 - 8 Curry leaves
- to taste Salt
- 2 tbsps Cilantro - finely chopped, for garnish
- Heat 2tsp oil in a saute pan; add the cinnamon stick, 1tsp shah jeera, cloves and the chopped onions. Cook on medium flame until onions turn translucent and slightly browned around the edges, about 6-8 minutes. Remove into a plate to cool. Once it's slightly cooled, grind into a smooth paste along with salt, red chili powder and tamarind paste.
- In the same pan, heat 1tbsp oil and add 1tsp shah jeera and curry leaves. Next add the eggplants; cover and cook on medium-low flame until almost cooked through.
- Add the onion paste and gently mix it in with the veggies. Cover and cook until eggplant is completely cooked through. Add some water if the mixture looks dried out. Check the seasonings and adjust accordingly.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or roti.