Stuffed Aubergines in Tangy Tamarind Gravy

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Stuffed aubergines in tangy tamarind gravy

I am so thrilled to tell you about some more awards I received from my bloggy friends recently! The first one came from the beautiful Sabrina who has a great blog called LouLou Sucre and she honoured Cosmopolitan Currymania with The Versatile Blogger award! Although this is not the first time I am receiving this award, still I am happy as a child when someone so lovingly and thoughtfully passes on an award like this to me. Thank you, Sabrina!

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The next three awards came from Savitha Raj, who maintains a tempting blog called SavithaRaj’s Spice Land. She passed me The Cutest Blog award, The Circle of Friends award and Kreativ Blogger award. Savitha, thank you so much!

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I love aubergines. I am never tired of tasting the multitude of flavours this simple vegetable provides with different permutation and combination of ingredients! In India, this is one of those vegetarian dishes (called bharwan baingan in Hindi) which the home cooks as well as the professional chefs are proud to talk about. For those who didn’t like the taste of aubergines till now, this dish is for them. This makes a great Indian vegetarian party dish too!

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An iron skillet is never used to cook dishes which have tamarind (or any sour ingredient) in them because the acid in the tamarind reacts with the iron in the skillet, changing the colour of the food to black. Like biryani, the traditional way to cook this is in a baked-clay-pot. I do not find terracotta pots here in Hong Kong, so I use a good-quality non-stick pan conveniently for this stuffed dish.

Every state of India has its own variation for this recipe. I have also tried out a couple of recipes for an Indian-style stuffed aubergine dish, gathered from different sources and from different parts of India, till I bookmarked this recipe, where I found that the amounts of ingredients going into the stuffing (shown in the recipe here) yield a magical and unforgettable flavour!

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If you are a dare-devil foodie, explore this spicy delicacy of South-Indian vegetarian cuisine and feel the celebration of careful assortment of spices in this dish, perfected over generations! Chillies are an essential part of the dish, so please don’t omit them in the recipe. The amounts of the ingredients have been carefully analysed and experimented with. I have cooked this dish without adding the poppy seeds too, but those really provide a further boost to the taste of this stuffed aubergine dish! Since every ingredient plays a significant role in the final flavor of this delicacy, so for best results, please do not omit any ingredient in this recipe.

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Stuffed aubergines in tangy tamarind gravy

Stuffed Aubergines in Tangy Tamarind Gravy

Ingredients:
  • Baby aubergines (or eggplants): 10
  • Onion (finely chopped): ¾ cup
  • Ginger (grated): 3 tsp
  • Garlic (crushed): 3 tsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds: 1tsp
  • White poppy seeds (optional): 1 tsp
  • Sesame seeds: 2 tsp
  • Desiccated and shredded coconut (unsweetened): 2 tsp
  • Peanuts (dry-roasted with the skin, then cooled and skin removed): 1 tbsp
  • Red chilli powder: 1.5 tsp
  • Fresh curry leaves: 10
  • Dried, whole red chillies: 2
  • Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
  • Tamarind (lime-sized) soaked in warm water (6 tbsp) for 20 min and the juice strained
  • Oil: 4 tbsp
  • Salt (divided): 1.5 tsp
  • Sugar: ¼ tsp
  • Water: ½ cup
Method:

Make a deep slit on each aubergine lengthwise, till the end (do not cut through the aubergines completely). Rub the inside parts with salt. Keep aside for 15 min.

Meanwhile, heat half the oil in a pan and sauté the onion for 5 min. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for five more minutes. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and sauté for 1 min, till fragrant. Add the poppy seeds, sesame seeds and coconut. Sauté continuously, till the mixture is dry.

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Let this mixture come to the room temperature. Now, grind this coarsely in a food processor. Mix the peanuts (dry-roasted and de-skinned), sugar, salt and chilli powder to this paste and mix evenly. This is the spicy stuffing for the aubergines.

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The stuffing should be coarsely ground

Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and wait till the oil starts to smoke. Add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and the whole dry, red chillies (taking care that you don’t burn the curry leaves and the red chillies completely). Add the aubergines one-by-one, so that the slits with the stuffing should not touch the pan. Cover for 10 min (under medium heat).

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After 10 min, flip the aubergines carefully with two spoons and cover once again for 10 min. Now add the tamarind paste, the remaining spice paste and water. Cook covered for 10 min. Flipping the aubergines once more, cook for ten more minutes.
These taste heavenly with chapattis, parathas (flatbreads) or rice.

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