Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Vankaya Poornam - Stuffed Brinjal (Eggplant)


Stuffed vegetables are a big favourite at home and I have never thought of them as being difficult to make. So bitter gourd, capsicums, brinjals and tinda with stuffing are quite a regular on our menu - the fillings also change to make things different and they make a welcome addition to the regular sabzis and porials we have with our meals.

This Sunday lunch had a simple menu - peas pulao, mixed vegetable kadhi and stuffed brinjals. I wanted to try a different filling from the two I usually use - a well bhunaoed (roasted) tomato onion masala mixture and a Maharashtrian dry spice powder. I vaguely remembered a stuffed brinjal recipe I had written down from Femina a few years ago searched for it in my book.

If I remember correctly this is an Andhra recipe (vankaya in Telugu refers to eggplant and poornam means "filling") and was part of a delicious Andhra food feature - have no clue about the author now, so am not able to give due credit. I have adapted the quantities of the original filling ingredients since they seemed to be quite a lot.

Sesame(til) and dessicated coconut (copra) give the filling a distinctive nutty flavour and the tamarind balances it out beautifully.

Choose eggplants which are small, firm and have a glossy skin. Avoid those with spots or holes on them or those with shrivelled skin and soft spots. The stem should be green and fresh and not dried up. Fresh eggplants work best since they cook fast, have more flesh and less seeds than the mature ones.

While filling the eggplants, some people recommend keeping the stalk on, but I prefer cutting it off so that I can check inside the brinjal for any holes or black spots which mean they need to be thrown away.

A good non stick pan goes a long way in helping to cook the eggplant without much oil and without having to constantly stir it around - and this in turn helps prevent the brinjal pieces from falling apart. Other than that, this is quite a no fuss recipe and gets done while you are cooking the other items on the menu.

Vankaya Poornam - Stuffed Brinjal (Eggplant)



Ingredients:

Small size eggplants - 1/4 kg (around 5-6)
Mustard - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 6-8
Oil - 1 tbsp

Filling:

Oil - 1 tsp
Sesame seeds (til) - 1.5 tbsp
Poppy seeds (khus khus) - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds (dhania) - 1/2 tbsp
Red chillies - 2

Dessicated coconut powder (copra) - 2 tbsp
Tamarind piece (imli) - 1 " piece
Onion - 1/2 cup chopped

Method:

1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a heavy non stick pan and add the sesame seeds(til), poppy seeds(khus khus), red chillies and coriander seeds (dhania) to it and roast over low heat for about 10 minutes till a nice aroma emerges, stirring frequently so it doesn't get burnt.

2. Add the onion, coconut and tamarind piece and roast for another 3 minutes. Remove and cool.

3. Grind the ingredients with a teaspoonful of water to a smooth paste adding salt to it. The mixture should taste a wee bit salty since the eggplant itself will not have any salt in it. It should also be as thick as possible so that it stays inside the eggplant and doesn't fall out.

4. Remove the stalk and make 2 slits in the shape of a cross mark, stopping just about halfway through. Don't carry on right till the end, else it will fall apart.

5. With your fingers, gently fill each eggplant with the prepared masala paste taking care not to separate the four portions too much.

6. In the same non stick pan, heat a tbsp of oil and temper with the mustard seeds and curry leaves (when the mustard seeds pop add the curry leaves and stir for half a minute).

7. Place the eggplant pieces one their side in the pan and let them cook uncovered on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes; then carefully flip them over to cook on the other side. Similarly keep rotating them till all the sides are cooked including the top and the bottom. The skin will change colour and shrivel a bit.

8. If all the sides except the top or bottom are well cooked and some spilled masala is starting to stick to the bottom, stand the eggplants on their top or bottom, sprinkle a few drops of water on the bottom of the pan and cover and cook for about 5 minutes.



8 comments:

indosungod said...

Brinjals! Bring them on! Stuffed brinjal is perfect in any meal. I bet tastes delicious.

ranji said...

stuffed brinjal looks delicious..i love it..goes so well with dal and rice..

Trupti said...

Stuffed brinjal looks delicious

Hey I tagged you for 10 Pictures Meme. Check my blog..If you are interested you can play

Sia said...

i second indo. my all time fav veggie:)

Cham said...

Stuffed Brinj are my fav. Looks Yummy

shriya said...

Is that a brinjal, Wow it looks delicious, those are perfect stuffed brinjal looks absolutely yummy. Can I have some.

Miri said...

Thanks Indo,Ranji,Sia and Cham - surprised at how many people like brinjal because I have met a lot who dont't!

Shriya - anytime stop by for a bite!

Trupti - thanks for that - but must warn you I'm waaay behind already in posting a meme and an award :(

Miri

Asha said...

Looks gorgeous Miri, almost like Jamuns!:))