When I first made kathrikkai rasavangi, I used a recipe off the web, and called my mother to tell her about it. This was many years back and my mom was flabbergasted when I said I had added lentils. Does that not make it sambar then? There is not much difference in the ground spices so why name it differently at all, she said. Naturally, I had no answer and asked her for the recipe she followed.
My mom hates giving me recipes because I seem to lose them promptly, and then I call her again when I am half way through the dish. It irritates her to no end. However, I cajoled her into sharing it again. This is the version made in my mother’s house, and my children like it better than sambar. The difference lies in the fact that the coconut scrapings have to be roasted to golden brown and that the dish does not contain cooked dal. Instead there is a fistful of cooked chickpeas. This adds to the deliciousness.
Today I made a very delicious raw arugula pesto, inspired from a photograph by Mark Chew in Gary and George’s book titled ‘Cook with us’. This being ‘veganmofo’ month, I cannot share it with you right now. I however found the rasavangi recipe in drafts and was glad I had an authentic Indian dish to fall back on. I needed to stick to the Indian theme.
Recipe: Kathrikkai Rasavangi – Curried Aubergines
Yield: Serves 4 portions as a side dish to be served with rice
If you are allergic to brinjals, use any squash variety instead
Small purple eggplants – 10, quartered lengthwise
(Mine are about 1.5 inches in length. If using large ones, use 2-3)
Cooked chickpeas | Kabuli chana – 1/2 cup
Tamarind, small lime size
Salt – To taste
Turmeric powder – 1/8 tsp.
Coriander seeds – 1.5 tbsps.
Split blackgram | Urad dal – 2 tbsps.
Fresh coconut gratings – 4 tbsps.
Dried red chillies – 2 [or to taste]
Sesame oil | Til oil – 1/2 tsp.
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp.
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Dried red chillies – 1, split into two, or 2
Soak tamarind in a little hot water for 15 mins. Extract tamarind juice, twice or thrice. It should measure about 1/2 to 3/4 cup after addition of water to extract juice.
Dry roast ingredients for spice-mix individually till coriander seeds are darkened and aromatic, blackgram is pink and aromatic, coconut gratings are brown, and red chillies are a little charred. Cool, and grind with enough water to form a thick paste.
Heat oil for seasoning. When ready, splutter mustard seeds followed by curry leaves and dried red chillies. When the chillies darken, add brinjal slices and fry till they change colour. Sprinkle a little salt to bring out the juice and help the cooking. Set aside.
Heat tamarind extract in a stainless steel, heavy base vessel till the raw smell is removed. Now add the seasoning mix, along with salt, turmeric powder, and cooked chickpeas. Cook till brinjals are done, soft, but not mushy, about five minutes.
Add ground spice paste, and a little water,if needed. The dish should be as just a tad thinner than sambar. At this point you might need about 1-1.5 cups of water to bring the dish to the right consistency.
Adjust salt after tasting. Cook for a minute or two to bring the dish together. Serve with rice.
Traditionally, the brinjals would be fried in oil and the recipe would be the same as this. The seasoning would be added towards the end. I cringe on using oil twice, hence this method.