If you ask me what recipes comes to my mind when I think of eggplant, I would have said eggplant stir fry, eggplant parmesan, eggplant bajji or eggplant kothsu. But now a days the one sitting on top of my list is gutti vankaya. Gutti Vankaya is an authentic Andhra recipe and all the credit of introducing me to this recipe goes to N’s close friend S. When N was in the east coast, he and his friends used to order this vankaya from a take out place and that place closed down when I got married to N and moved to the east coast.
They used to tell me about the dish and the taste of it and I started the Project Gutti Vankaya. I call it a project because I thought it was Bagara Baingan or Baingan Bartha and I tried nearly 10-15 versions of it from adding onion paste to tomato paste to coconut milk to anything I can think of. The issue was that I never had tasted it but the description was mouth watering and I wanted to try it every time I heard it as,” spicy, well cooked, tangy and thick gravy”. Recreating without tasting is a headache.
Finally one day I found the perfect recipe for Vankaya from Indira. I was mesmerized by her version and how she described the dish as ” bouquet of brinjals”. I tried her version and it was a instant hit with N, me and our friends. Whenever we see green eggplants or baby purple eggplants in the market on a weekend, we look at each other and grab it. Our lunch the next day would be gutti vankaya.
Baby purple eggplants or green eggplants- 12-14 numbers
Tamarind- one small key lime size
Salt to taste
Red chili powder- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp
Water- 2-3 cups
To grind: (For stuffing and for the gravy)
Peanuts- 1/2 cup
White sesame seeds- 1/4 cup
Red Chilies- 6
Cinnamon- 1″ stick
Coconut- 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds- 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Soak the tamarind in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Extract the juice, discard the tamarind pulp and add another one cup of water to the juice. Keep aside.
Toast the peanuts to a golden brown color. Cool, remove the skin and keep aside.
Toast the sesame seeds to a golden brown color. Keep aside.
Toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, cloves and cinnamon together.
Slightly toast the coconut, do not let it turn brown as it will be bitter. Keep aside.
In a blender, grind peanuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, cloves, cinnamon, coconut and salt to a dry coarse powder. Do not add water at any stage of grinding. Divide the powder into two parts.
Wash and pat dry the eggplants. Chop the green stem and slice the eggplant. Do not chop it fully but leave some eggplant at the end, just slice it like a flower (plus shape).
Stuff the eggplant with the one portion of the spice powder.
Heat oil in a pan and start placing the eggplants on one side or one their base. Keep the flame on low and slowly toast it on all sides. Add the remaining spice powder and slightly stir it. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and slightly stir them in. Add the tamarind juice. Cover and let it simmer for 15- 20 minutes till the gravy is thickened, eggplants are cooked through and are soft.
The gravy should have reduced atleast 1/2 in volume and has to be thick, eggplants has to melt in the mouth like butter. Check for salt.
Serve the gutti vankaya with rice and poppadams. We had it with coconut rice and cucumber salad.
I am sending this gutti vankaya combination to Pari’s Combo event.
I am also reposting the South Indian Thali for this event. This plate contains rice, ghee, dal, Tomato Rasam, Drumstick sambhar, Okra-Cabbage Stir fry, Carrot Keer, Yogurt, Pickles and Poppadam.
My third entry to the event is Lead vessel Lemon Tomato Rasam, Cabbage-carrot Thoran and Rice.
This delicious Gutti Vankaya is also going to Anita’s Vegetable Marathon-Eggplant event.
Sivarathiri was celebrated at Meenakshi Temple last weekend with Bharathnatyam dance at the Navagraha Sannithi, with Poojas and a Homam at the main temple. Here are some photos taken during the event(Thanks to Sri. Chitoor K Ramachandran for the permission for the photos)