The one big food related plus of having time on my hands, which was a scarce commodity barely two months ago, is being able to make dishes that require a little more time than others. It helps also to live in a city where many ingredients are easy to come by. For instance, I found this bag of almost identical sized baby brinjals when we went grocery shopping. I bought the bag immediately, wanting to make Ennai Katrikkai. But I was missing a crucial ingredient. I decided to make this dish instead.
This dish is not a family recipe or anything like that. We had a lady working for us many years ago. One day, she asked Amma if she can make a side dish to go with chapatis. Amma agreed. She made this and all of us really liked it. It featured regularly on our menu for several years. I'd forgotten about this dish and made it just once earlier after Amma reminded me about 1-2 years ago. I made it again last week and it was gone before we knew it.
1/4 kg Baby Brinjals, slit crosswise with stems intact
2 Onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp Coconut, scraped
2 Cloves Garlic
1" piece of Ginger
1/4 cup Coriander Leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Chilli Powder
1/4 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 cup Roasted Peanuts, coarsely crushed
Salt to taste
1 tbsp Oil
For the tempering
1 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
7-8 Curry Leaves
Heat the tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Fry for about 3-4 minutes and add the coconut. Fry until the coconut turns brown. Grind this mixture with the garlic, ginger, and coriander leaves. Mix the turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala, and salt into this paste along with the crushed peanuts.
Stuff this mixture into the slit brinjals.
Heat the teaspoon of oil in a kadhai/pan. Add the mustard. When the mustard splutters, the asafoetida and the curry leaves. Add the stuffed brinjals and cover and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the brinjals are cooked. Uncover and cook for a minute or two.
Serve hot with chapatis or with some rice and dal. I could just eat this on its own. I also realized that this dish doesn't take as long to prepare as I'd imagined. Agreed that it has more steps than a simpler side dish, but it is in no way complicated.