3~4MediumJapanese or Chinese long Eggplants, chopped into 1" pieces
2tablespoonsCilantro, finely chopped, for garnish
Make Ulli Karam (Onion Paste):
Heat oil in a large saute pan on medium flame; add chopped onions, ginger and garlic. Cook 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.
Make the Curry:
In the same pan, heat oil to make the curry on medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook for 30 seconds or until the seeds splutter. Add curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds. Next add the eggplants; cover and cook on medium-low flame until almost cooked through, about 8~12 minutes.
Add the ground onion paste and mix gently with the veggies. Cover and cook until eggplant is completely cooked through, about 3~4 minutes. 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.
I prefer using red onion because they are sweet and spicy at the same time. But you can use any variety of onion - yellow, onion or even shallots.
Use 8-10 Indian or Thai style baby eggplants.
Adjust the quantity of chili powder. Start with 1 teaspoon of chili powder for a mild tasting curry and add more if you can handle some heat.
Ullipaya karam can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store it in a airtight container in the fridge.
Use Ulli karam as a spread on dosa or served as a chutney.
Instead of vankaya, you can also use potato, bittergourd, ridgegourd or ivy gourd.