STEAMED RICE & LENTIL CAKES WITH SPICY, HOT, SWEET & SOUR AUBERGINE CHUTNEY
During the time when I was holding a corporate job, a colleague of mine brought a chutney that looked like the most unappetising thing I had ever laid my eyes on 😛 “I got this for you. Try this and tell me what you think about it” was all he said. His wife was a fabulous cook and despite the ‘thing’ looking so unappetising, I did not cast a doubt on her cooking skills. Yet, I gingerly picked a spoon and took a little of it and very apprehensively put the contents of the spoon in my mouth. I was knocked off by the taste of what ever I had just tasted. The appearance and the taste were diametrically opposite to each other. I greedily took a couple of spoons and started going gaga over it. Suddenly, he said to me “do you know what it is made of?” I couldn’t care less what it was made of since I loved it and given an opportunity, I would have polished and licked off the entire bowl!! “This is made from brinjal,” he said while rolling with glee and laughter.
Eggplant (Brinjal) or what we call baingan, never figured anywhere on my list of palatable vegetables and my colleague knew this all too well. I was shocked by the revelation and could not utter a word for a few seconds. Brinjal could taste this good??!?!? It was then that I came to realise, that no vegetable or any ingredient for that matter is good or bad in its taste. It all depends on how well it has been treated/ cooked and that brinjal chutney was the evidence to that belief. I thanked him for helping me change my stance about eggplant and since then there has been no looking back.
My wonderful colleague even shared the recipe with me that his wife graciously wrote for me. So that is the story behind that hideous looking bowl of chutney in which you see the idlis dunked in happily! This recipe lives up to the Hindi idiom of “soorat pe nahi seerat pe jao” (roughly translates to – do not go by appearance, instead, consider the character) My colleague was a Tamilian and for long I didn’t know what the native name for this dish was since he simply told me to consider it brinjal khichdi or brinjal chutney and it was meant to be consumed with idlis and dosa. A little search on google told me that it is apparently called vankaya pachadi. However recently I saw someone on Instagram mentioned it as gothsu. Whatever the name, all I can tell you is, it’s really yum.
For this recipe you will need the following ingredients, however, feel free to adjust the amount of ingredients to suit your taste.
175 gram small Baingan (Brinjal/ Eggplant)
½ tsp grated Ginger
3 Green Chilies (mine were small sized & super hot)
1 Tomato (60 grams approx)
1½ C Water
1½ tbsp Oil
½ tsp Mustard Seeds
¼ tsp Cumin Seeds
½ C finely chopped Onions
1 spring Curry Leaves
1 tsp thick Tamarind Pulp (I used readymade)
¼ C Water
Salt to taste
2 tsp Jaggery powder (adjust to taste)
In a sauce pan, add all the ingredients under the chutney category and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the saucepan and let the contents boil for 15 minutes.
Switch off the heat and allow the contents to cool down a little and then blend them in a blender. Set aside.
Add the tamarind pulp to one fourth cup of water and mix it well. Sieve it and set aside.
In a frying pan or a sauce pan, heat oil and add mustard and cumin seeds. Add onions and fry till they turn transluscent.
Add curry leaves and fry till the onions turn begin to turn golden. Add the blended brinjals to the tempering. Stir for half a minute.
Now add tamarind water and salt. Stir well and allow the contents to cook on a gentle heat to thicken the chutney a little bit (adjust to desired consistency).
Switch off the heat and stir in the jaggery powder. Taste the chutney and adjust seasonings.
(RICE & LENTIL FERMENTED CAKES)
1 C Raw Rice (uncooked rice)
¾ C Urad Dal, skinless (Ivory Lentils)
Salt to taste
Pick and wash the rice & dal separately and soak them separately as well for 5 hours
Grind the dal using very little water and set aside.
Grind the rice using little water.
(use chilled water or cubes of ice to grind the dal and rice since the heat generated while grinding can hinder the fermentation process)
Mix the two together and add salt. Using very little water make a medium thick batter. Cover the container.
Set it aside at a warm place to ferment for for 6 – 8 hours (depending on the weather conditions) or preferably over night.
Grease the idli moulds with a little oil and pour the batter into the moulds. Add water to your idli steamer (read the user manual) and bring to a boil.
Steam the idlis for 12 – 15 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the idli comes out clean.
Remove from the moulds and serve with chutney of your choice.
Note: Some people prefer half a cup of urad dal for making the idli batter. The amount totally depends on what kind of texture you prefer for idlis.
Note: In case you do not have idli moulds, you can steam the batter in small cake tin or mould and the slice and serve the ‘idlis’.
Note: I had added turmeric to the idli batter and before pouring the batter into the mould, I had added a tempering of mustard seeds, chana dal and a few finely chopped curry leaves.
Yield: Makes 24 Idlis
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