Stuffed eggplants are made all over India with a slight variation of spices and called by different name. This is a favourite in Karnataka and is usually served with jolada rotti (sorghum bread). I remember my mother making it when we had relatives visiting from out of town.
Many many years ago, when we visited Kamat Yatri Nivas, which is famous for this dish, we asked the chef there, an old man who looked atleast 80 and who said he has been making this dish forever shared his recipe with us. Unfortunately, I did not write it down, but it tastes good when I make it.
This is a healthier version, less oil. It has a long list of ingredients but don’t get deterred by it. It is really worth the effort!
6 baby eggplants
1.5 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1 large onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
1/4 tsp tamarind paste
For the masala:
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 red chillies
1/2 cup fresh coconut (frozen grated coconut is also good)
2 tbsp peanuts
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin
Slit eggplants and sprinkle some salt on it. Leave it a colander for 20 minutes and wash. This will remove the bitterness from the eggplant.
Dry roast ingredients for masala. Keep aside.
In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil, add onions and fry till golden brown. Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger and fry till tomatoes are well cooked. Grind this mixture with the roasted ingredients in a blender. Add some water to get a fine paste.
Stuff the eggplants with the paste
In a pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add mustard, curry leaves and turmeric powder. When mustards start to splutter, add the eggplants, any extra paste, tamarind paste, salt and cook on a low flame for 20 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and continue cooking till the eggplants are cooked.
Serve hot with roti or rice.