KATTARIKAI MASALA - STUFFED EGGPLANT
My attai (father’s sister) was the first one in the family to go ‘out’ and live in the ‘North’ after her wedding. Later she came back with a wealth of knowledge about the north Indian dishes as she was an eager learner of variety cooking. We had never heard of ginger-garlic paste or grinding of onion for the masala until aunty started preparing for the family. She also loved to prepare a great many varieties of stuffed dishes. One among them is the stuffed eggplant. Mother too prepared this dish but at the most she would add only a small piece of cinnamon to the masala. She usually stuffed the vegetable with spice and then steam it in pressure cooker before lightly sautéing it in a little oil. My brother’s wife microwaves the stuffed eggplant and then sautés it in little seasoning. I like my aunt’s method as it keeps the vegetable intact, yet juicy.
Eggplants – 10 (small)
Bengal gram dal- 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsps
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Red chillies – 12
Cinnamon – 1 inch
Tomatoes – 1
Salt -1 ½ tsp
Oil - tbsps
Cumin seeds -1/4 tsp
For the masala:
1. Peel onion and cut them into four pieces.
2. Chop tomato finely and keep aside.
3. Heat a drop of oil in a pan and add asafoetida., followed by the Bengal gram dal, coriander seeds, cinnamon and red chillies and roast till it is golden in colour.
4. Cool the roasted ingredients and dry grind them into a fine powder.
5. Now add the cut onions and salt to the powder and again run the mixer.
6. There is no need of adding water while grinding, since the juice of onion is enough to make a paste.
1. Wash and carefully slit eggplants from the top. Make eight segments (4 cuts), but leave the segments on the stalk, and don’t cut so far that the segment breaks away. Refer the diagram for the cuts.
2. Stuff the vegetable in the middle and in between the segments with the ground paste.
3. After stuffing all the eggplants heat oil in a pan.
4. Add cumin seeds and the chopped tomatoes.
5. Add a pinch of salt and sauté for one minute.
6. Arrange the stuffed eggplants in the pan and turn each of them gently to coat with oil.
7. Cover with lid and cook on low fire until it is done.
8. When the vegetable becomes tender remove lid and keep sautéing till it absorbs all the spice.
Enjoy with rice, chapattis or bread.