Monday, May 27, 2013

Roasted eggplant pachadiS - Vankaya pachadi 2 ways with the same roasted egg plant

This is a vegetable I have gone on the spectrum from 'I don't like' to 'I don't care if you make it' to 'Hmm, this is kinda nice' to 'wow, this is really yummy'. Growing up in Mysore, we used to get the slender, light green, about a finger long brinjals called 'eeranagere (name of the place) badanekaayi (brinjal in Kannada)' and Nammamma made delicious Vangi bhath with it. This variety has enough meat to hold shape when cooked but not become watery or goopy like the other varieties. Then there was the purple, small, round mullu badane kaayi named so because of the thorny texture at the base of the brinjal. These tasted divine when made into ennegaayi or a dryish sort of curry with home made spice powder. I have not found the long, light green variety anywhere here in the market though sometimes I have come across the longer, purple ones which have a buttery texture and generally seedless. During Summer, I also get a white brinjal and shades anywhere in between the white and the dark purple.

I had not eaten any other kind of brinjals until I got married. And then things changed :-). When the vegetable finds its way on the lunch/dinner plate atleast 3-4 times a week, my take on it was 'if you have to eat it, you better enjoy eating it' but then I found myself actually falling in love with it. Amma makes a number of side dishes with this vegetable and the most common varieties we get home are either the small, round, purple ones or the large, seedless eggplant. With a slight change of spices or the way it is cooked, the vegetable transforms into a delicious side dish. I am a convert now and enjoy this vegetable in all its glory.

Eggplants or brinjals or Aubergines as they are called are low calorie, high nutrient vegetables. Just watch the way you cook and the amount of oil used and you can prepare a delicious side dish that is also healthy.

Of the many different ways Amma cooks this vegetable, here is one of my most favorite one. I love, love the charred, fire roasted flavor of the eggplants. Though it is a messy way of cooking and leaves your stove top begging to be cleaned, the flavor from open fire makes this curry extremely delicious. Since I do not own a gas stove anymore, I use a couple of tricks to get as close to the smokey flavor as possible. If you have a gas stove, go ahead and roast the egg plants directly on the flame, be forewarned that the juices will flow out as the vegetable cooks and get settled on your stove top (not a pretty sight and definitely not something you would like if you like a spotless kitchen :-)).

I said 2 pachadis in my title of this post, so here is how that works. You roast the eggplants in the same way, half the pulp (or any other division depending on which version of the pachadi you favor more) and then proceed to make the 2 really yummy pachadis. You don't have to make both on the same day, infact we don't. I just made it for the ease of photos and blending them into a single post. Amma usually serves the one with tamarind as a side dish to fresh Kandi podi rice and the one with yogurt is typically mixed with hot rice. But, there is no food police out there and you can enjoy them any which way it pleases you. So let us get started, shall we?
How do you make roasted eggplant pachadis?
Variation 1: Tamarind based a.k.a Vankaya pulusu pachadi
1 large eggplant (see notes for selection)
1 lemon size tamarind
1/2 Tsp crushed/grated jaggery
1 Tsp salt
2 Tblsp finely chopped onion
1 Tblsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tsp fenugreek seeds
3-4 dry red chilies (broken into pieces)
1-2 green chilies broken into pieces(optional)
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
4-6 curry leaves
1 Tblsp finely chopped cilantro
1 Tsp chana dal (optional)
3/4 Tsp urad dal (optional)
Variation 2: Yogurt based a.k.a Vankaya Perugu pachadi
1 large eggplant
1.5 cups home made or store bought plain yogurt
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp sugar
1 Tblsp oil
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1 Tsp cumin
1/8 Tsp asafoetida
4-6 curry leaves
3-4 dry red chilies broken into pieces
1-2 green chilies broken into pieces

How do you prepare the eggplants for the pachadis? 
  • Wash and pat dry the eggplant. 
  • Brush a drop or so of oil all over the surface of the eggplant. 
  • Make some incisions all over the eggplant with a sharp knife, this helps the eggplant to cook uniformly without it bursting open. 
  • If you have a gas stove, roast the eggplant on the flame, turning it once in a while to ensure even roasting. 
  • If you do not have a gas stove, you can either do this on a grill (heated to the maximum setting) or oven roast the eggplant at 400F for 50 minutes to an hour turning it once or twice in between. 
  • If you are oven roasting the eggplant, once it is done, switch the oven to high broil and keep the eggplant inside for 2-4 minutes just to get a faint smokey flavor. 
  • Take out the eggplant and let it cool slightly. Chop the stem end and discard.
  • The skin will come off easily to your finger pull, take out the skin and mash the pulp gently to a coarse paste. You can put this in a food processor or chopper and give it a quick whirl to get the right consistency. 
  • Below are the 2 ways you can make the pachadi, choose either one that appeals to you or make both of them as I did today :-).
How do you make Vankaya Pulusu pachadi? 
  • Soak tamarind in water for about 30 minutes to soften it and extract juice. Add water to make about a cup and half of tamarind juice, keep aside. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida, mustard, fenugreek and the dals (if using) and let the mustard start to pop. 
  • Add the broken red chilies, curry leaves and mix it in. 
  • Add the chopped onions and fry until they turn soft and pink. 
  • Add the salt, jaggery and tamarind extract. Let it come to a boil.
  • Switch off the stove, add the mashed eggplant pulp and the chopped cilantro and give it a good mix. 
  • Vankaya pulusu pachadi is ready to be eaten, as I said it makes a good accompaniment to Kandi podi anna or patholi and hot rice.
How do you make Vankaya perugu pachadi? 
  • Take the yogurt, salt, sugar in a bowl and whisk it into a smooth blend. 
  • Add the mashed eggplant pulp and mix it well. 
  • Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida, mustard and cumin and let mustard start to pop. 
  • Add the red chili pieces and curry leaves. 
  • Pour the seasoning on top of yogurt mixture and give it a mix.
  • Enjoy the delicious, cool pachadi with rice or roti.
  • Select eggplants that feel heavy for their size, these will have good amount of core in them and also stand the heat well. 
  • As it cooks, the eggplant shrinks in size and the juices will start oozing out. You need to cook until it feels soft when poked with a knife or the back of a spoon. 
  • For the tamarind based pachadi, the onions do not have to be very tender, a little crunch adds to the texture. 
  • Both pachadis do not have a lot of spices and are generally milder, you can bite into the green or red  chilies for an extra dose of spice while eating :-)
  • Tamarind based pachadi is usually of pouring consistency while the yogurt based pachadi is more of dropping consistency. So adjust the tamarind water for the first one. 
  • The tamarind extract needs to just come to a rolling boil for this recipe and there is no need to thicken the sauce. 
  • Taste the tamarind mixture as it boils and adjust salt, jaggery as needed. The pachadi is a slightly tangy, with a hint of jaggery in it. 


Anonymous said...

Awesome - the one without curds is our family fav.

NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful dishes with Vankaayi. really Vankaayi is a king like in vegetables.nice side dish as a pachchadi and main course as a koora. hats off vankaayi!!!

Premas Culinary said...

wow tempting me too much,loved it...

Priya Suresh said...

If i have eggplants i'll always finish them making vangi bath,obviously rarely had a chance to make pachadis with them,somehow i love ur perugu pachadi,have to get some eggplants soon to try it.

Saranya Balaji said...

Loved ur both versions...looks delicious...