Nune Vankaya Kura / Stuffed Brinjal in spicy coconut gravy
This a very classic dish made my by MIL, she makes to such perfection that you can never stop eating it. It goes well with anything, with dosa, rice, roti… or just slather some gravy on the bread, wedge a lil aubergine between 2 slices add some fresh salad to it and you are good to go! It is a versatile, very forgiving dish; you can sneak in some more spices or just leave out some and it will still taste good..
But I followed my MILs recipe to the T as the hubby is not very happy with experimenting as he loves this dish as his mom makes it... so I dint have much freedom to fiddle with it..
What all is needed
1. ½ KG fresh small purple brinjals. ( Preferable even in size )
2. ½ cup coconut pieces/1/4 cup shredded coconut
3. ¼ cup peanuts ( If allergic to nuts, replace with same amount of coconut/ add a large tomato )
4. 3 tbsp white sesame seeds ( Dry roast and keep aside )
5. Key lime size tamarind, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes / 2 tbsp thick tamarind paste
6. 6 cloves garlic
7. 1 large onion cut into chunks
8. 4 tbsp red chili powder
9. 1 tbsp coriander powder
10. Sprig of curry leaves
11. 1 tsp each mustard seeds, cumin seeds
12. ¼ tsp turmeric powder
13. 1 green cardamom,2 cloves, ½ inch cinnamon stick
14. ¼ tsp fenugreek powder ( Dry roast and grind fenugreek seeds )
15. ¼ + ¼ cup oil
16. 1 liter tap water, add 2 tsp salt to it and keep aside
17. 1 bunch coriander leaves
Add the cocnut,peanuts (if using, else tomato ), toasted sesame seeds, onion, garlic, chili powder, coriander powder, tamarind paste in a food processor / mixie and pulse to form a smooth paste.
Heat ¼ cup oil in a pan, add ingredients 10-13 to the oil and toast for 2 minutes, and then add the coconut paste and fry for 15-20 minutes on a medium heat till the oil separates and take off heat and let it cool.
While the paste cooks, wash the brinjals, keep the stems intact, hold each brinjal near the stem and make a “+ “shaped slit from the broad base. Now put these slit brinjals in the salted water.
Stuffing the brinjals: Gentle open the slits and put 1 tbsp coconut paste in the slit.
Now, put a wide pan on heat and add ¼ cup oil and heat. Add the fenugreek paste and fry for 20 seconds, now gently place all the stuffed brinjals. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes. Now add the rest of the coconut paste, add 2 cups of water and half bunch chopped coriander , cover and cook for 25 minutes / till the brinjals are soft but not mushy ( Test by picking one brinjal by its stem, it should hold shape but should not fall off the stem/ press and see if it gives any hard resistance )
If using pressure cooker, cook on low flame till 3 whistles.