Saturday, May 10, 2014

Vankaya banda pachadi (aubergine chutney) - Back to the old ways for a superlicious side dish

Sometimes she is the little baby that wants amma to hug her, at other times she is the all grown up, 'don't bother me' teenager.
Sometimes she jumps on amma's bed and cuddles up throwing her long arms and legs carelessly over me, at other times she is the independent adolescent that refuses to even come near amma's bedroom.
Sometimes she is the docile child that listens to amma, at other times she is the rebellious, spirited girl who will do just the opposite of what her mom wants her to do.
Sometimes she is running all around the house wildly screaming/singing at the top of voice, the epitome of the tomboy she can be, at other times she surprises us with her tender, responsible behavior in a completely unexpected situation.
She prefers reading suppandi comics to Shakespeare any day but works diligently on her essay for English class on topics that are too heavy even for adults.
She cooes and baby talks to her grand mothers in their respective languages but refuses to talk to me in anything other than English :-)
Sometimes she says her amma has no fashion sense, at other times she shamelessly raids her mother's closet and runs off with my newly purchased dresses :-).
I see the spirit of perseverance in her and feel proud at her independence to chart her own course in life, I also worry about the vulnerable child behind it all who thinks she knows how to navigate through this life.
I see so much of myself in her yet I see that she is her own person without a shred of doubt.
I love the fact that she seems more mature than I ever was at that age but also wonder if she is growing up too fast too soon.
I wish I could cocoon and protect her every step of the way and not let any harm touch her but I understand she has to go through her own experiences and feel through her own bruises and be responsible for them.

She is the one who calls me 'Amma', I think I am a better person because of my daughter. I don't remember the long labor or the anticipation leading upto her birth anymore, all I remember is holding that perfect little baby in my arms and gaping at the miracle with utter disbelief. I remember every little detail of her baby days though I don't have a record of many of them.

I remember leaving a bewildered, bawling baby at the day care for the first time, as I climbed in next to BH equally teary eyed on our way to work, I remember coming back in the evening and peeking into the windows of that play home to find her contentedly playing with other kids. I remember her gleeful smile when she spotted me at the window and jumped up and ran towards me with arms open wide for a hug. I remember her becoming so tuned my arrival times that she would pack her bag and tell her nannies that amma was here just as I stopped my vehicle infront of the play home. I remember the little girl who trusted her parents completely and believed every decision we made were actually wise. I pray she keeps her positive attitude in life no matter what and brings warmth and joy to people around her, I hope she continues to love her mother for eternity like I do love mine. I love her like I love no one else in the world and I think I understand how my mother loves me - unconditionally and completely and always.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there and people with motherly hearts. 

I have a recipe today that many mothers in the family have fed me. Wondering what the long name in the title means? Hang in there, I will explain what it means in a moment. Andhra cuisine is very famous for its numerous varieties of pachadis/chutneys/dips. There are pachadis made to stay for months at a stretch called niluvu pachadis and then there are pachadis that you will need to consume the same day or may be the next day. Pickles, thokkus belong to the first variety and most other pachadis belong to the second category.

Today's pachadi is of the second variety and has got the long name because of the way it is usually prepared - using a stone grinder. Don't run off now if you don't have the equipment shown below, there are very legitimate alternatives in this age of electricity. Are you thinking I went to India and got some pictures? I wish that was the case :-) but no I am very much here and tending to my routine life which is currently anything but routine since DD is running her month long marathon of exams - not that we are doing anything special but I just like to think so :-).
Well, on a recent trip to Costco, I found this really cute (thinks me) and extremely heavy (thinks BH) mortar and pestle, infact it had a gorgeous picture of guacamole ingredients on the top of the box which lured me. I have another mortar & pestle already which is about 1/2 the size of this new one and does a good job. So after a few minutes of standing infront of the stacked boxes doing my usual 'Need Vs want' analysis, I decided to splurge and buy one for myself. In my defense, my brain likes to take moments of rest and let the heart take over on some matters which I think is a very good balance. Like I told BH, if nothing else, it makes a great prop for the blog pictures :-) and it makes such a great addition in the corner of my kitchen counter.

So we duly brought it home and as I was taking out the stuff to put them into pantry or refrigerator, my eyes fell on the bag of those ultra cute, dark purple, petite baby aubergines (eggplants or vankaya) and I decided to inaugurate my new gadget by making a vankaya pachadi. I have eaten this from many mother's in the family, one of BH's cousins who used to travel on work used to bring some home cooked food with her whenever her parents were at home. She had a project going in the same town we lived for a while and we used to meet up often and when she came home for dinner, she had brought her travel food and one of the dabbas had this pachadi, amazingly mouthwatering!
My family is made of vankaya/eggplant lovers but amma hardly makes this pachadi since stuffed vankaya or vankaya koora is always on the demand list (even when the vegetable is cooked more than twice a week :-)) and some how the pachadi gets to the back seat. Last time my in laws were here, I made sure she showed me her way of making this pachadi and we all licked the plate clean that night. Amma used coriander seeds a little more liberally in her pachadis than I do as I prefer the flavor of toasted mustard and fenugreek in my pachadis. So I have made a few changes and here is a delicious pachadi for all of you to enjoy.

I roasted all the ingredients and BH very sportingly helped mash it down into a pulp using the new gadget, it really made the pachadi taste so fresh and tasty. I soaked dal & rice in the evening for our weekly dosa batter and told BH that he could grind the batter in the new mortar & pestle, he gave me a look that said, "Don't push it" :-), so I employed my electric grinder for the job.

You can very well make this pachadi in your mixer/grinder like I did until a week or so back or you can find your own mortar & pestle that does a great job too. But try this pachadi in any case, low calorie eggplants spiced up superbly and goes well with hot rice and a drop of ghee.
What do you need to make Vankaya banda pachadi? 
2 baby aubergines or 1 medium eggplant
1 small tomato
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tbsp oil
handful of cilantro
To roast: 
2 Tblsp chana dal
1/2 Tsp urad dal
1 Tsp fenugreek seeds
1 Tsp mustard seeds
1/2 Tsp coriander seeds
4-5 dry red chilies
2 green chilies
1/8 Tsp Asafoetida
small piece of tamarind
How do you make Vankaya banda pachadi? 
  • Heat oil in a pan, add the chana dal and fenugreek seeds, let them roast for a minute or so.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except for asafoetida and stirring frequently, roast them until mustard splutters and the dal & fenugreek turn pink and crisp. 
  • Add Asafoetida, mix and take it out on to a plate, let cool.
  • In the same pan, add chopped tomato and cook for a couple of minutes until the pieces turn mushy. 
  • Add cilantro, roast for a minute. Switch off and remove the contents to the plate with the rest of the ingredients. 
  • There are a couple of ways of cooking eggplant for this recipe, I will list them here and leave it to you to choose based on the availability of gadgets and time on hand: 
  • Method 1 (Classic & gives the best roasted aroma): Wash, wipe dry the eggplant, poke a few holes with a fork or a knife all around the surface, smear 2 drops of oil on the surface and roast the egg plant on a grill turning it frequently until it is completely charred from outside and cooked through.
  • Method 2(Time consuming but much cleaner and gentler than stove top): Wash, wipe dry the eggplant, poke a few holes with a fork or a knife all around the surface, smear 2 drops of oil on the surface and bake it in a 350F pre heated oven for about 1 hour, turning it once or twice for even cooking. 
  • Method 3 (Good flavor but lot of clean up later on): Wash, wipe dry the eggplant, poke a few holes with a fork or a knife all around the surface, smear 2 drops of oil on the surface and roast it on direct gas flame if you have one. 
  • Method 4 (Easiest and quickest): Wash, wipe dry and chop the eggplants into small bite sized pieces. Roast them in a pan with a Tsp of oil until soft and cooked. 
  • If using method 1-3, once the eggplant is cooked, take it into a bowl, cover it tightly with a cling wrap and leave it aside for 10 minutes. The steam from the hot eggplant softens the skin and peels off easily. 
  • Peel & discard the charred skin and remove the pulp of the eggplant. 
  • Now to grinding, first grind the roasted ingredients (dal+others) to a coarse powder, now add the tomato & cilantro along with salt and grind it roughly. You will not need any water if you use the pulse mode in the mixer. 
  • Finally add the cooked eggplant and give it a couple of whips so it breaks down and mixes well. 
  • Take it out into a bowl and serve it with hot rice. 
  • Roasting tamarind softens it and makes it easy to grind. 
  • Whichever method of cooking you use, make sure eggplant is cooked through. A raw eggplant leaves a very bad taste in pachadi and totally spoils the pachadi experience. 
  • Do not use water while grinding this pachadi and do not make a very smooth paste out of it. Coarsely ground pachadi gives that unmistakable texture


NamsVeni Pothas said...

very very happy mother's day to all Sattvaa readers. very nice recipe mouth watering. long live Vankkaayi .

NamsVeni Pothas said...

very very happy mother's day to all Sattvaa readers. very nice recipe mouth watering. long live Vankkaayi .

Anonymous said...

Yummy, yum
Happy Mothers Day, you kindness shows in your recipes as well as in your family relationships. Keep spreading both....

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Happy Mother's Day! Loved reading your post...
We too make this chutney in a very similar way except for a few ingredients...this one looks mouthwatering..