Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chettinad Karakozhambu - Whole Eggplants in Spicy Gravy

We, at the K's household, were craving for something hot and spicy... Arrival of an unsuspecting friend provided me the perfect excuse to cook something really spicy; after all how many days can I experiment with just one specimen ;) ??? So I went about making Yennai Kathirikai Kaarakozhambu ( Oil fried eggplants in spicy gravy)- a chettinad delicacy.

Known for its beautiful mansions, the Chettinad region in the South Indian state of Tamilnadu, boasts of one of the spiciest and the most aromatic dishes you can find in Indian cuisine. It is famous for its use of a variety of spices and the dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas - this eggplant curry being no exception.

As a child I was fortunate to be surrounded by quite a few neighbours from Chettinad. Thus,I grew up eating a lot of the tasty dishes which they kindly shared, the egglpant stew being the main attraction.

This would be my entry for Waiter, there's something in my . . . the brand new food blogging fun sponsored by Andrew, Jeanne, and Johanna.


Small Asian eggplants - 5-6
Tamarind - one small lemon sized
Oil - 8 Tbsps

For Masala:
Dhania (corriander seeds) - 3 tbsp
Channa dhal - 2 tbsp
Red chillies – 4
White sesame seeds - 3/4 tbsp
Black pepper - 1/4 tbsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup

For gravy:
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
1 medium sized tomato (finely chopped)
1 or 2 Green chillies
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Ginger (finely chopped) - 1/2 tsp
Garlic - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp (optional)

For seasoning:
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafetida – a pinch,
curry leaves and coriander leaves – few sprigs


Soak tamarind in a cup hot water for few minutes and extract juice from it.

Heat a pan and roast channa dhal,dhaniya, red chillies & sesmame seeds(without oil).

Grind the roasted spices along with grated coconut,1/4 cup tamarind extract and salt to a thick masala mix.

Make four vertical cuts in each eggplant leaving the stem intact(Cuts should be only for the 3/4 of the length of the eggplant - refer pix.)

Carefully stuff the masala mix inside the eggplant and let it marinate while preparing the gravy.

Save the remaining masala mix for use in gravy.

Heat 2 tbsps. oil in a pan and fry onion, green chilly,ginger and garlic for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and fry till the tomato becomes pulpy. Grind this to a fine paste using blender.

Heat oil in large saucepan and add the mustard seeds.

Once the mustard starts cracking,add a little asafetida, onion-tomato puree and remaining tamarind extract (3/4 cup) and let the mixture boil for 3 minutes.

Add the saved masala mix, turmeric, salt and chilli powder and cook for 10 - 15 minutes.

While the mixture is cooking,add water as per the consistency required.This is the base gravy for the curry.

While the gravy is cooking,heat 5 tbsps of oil in a shallow pan and add the stuffed eggplant.

Close the pan with a lid and cook for about 5 minutes in medium flame

Remove the lid and fry the eggplant, turning after every 2 or 3 minutes, till done.
(While turning the eggplant, please make sure that the stuffing doesn't come out)

Once the eggplants are nicely done, add them to the gravy mix and cook about 5 minutes in low flame.

Enjoy with hot rice and papad.


Smaller the eggplant, the better.
Be generous with the oil while frying the eggplant; less oil makes them mushy and soggy.
A bit of multitasking ( making the gravy and frying the eggplants at the same time) saves a lot of time.
To avoid a pile of vessels in the sink, reuse the same 2 pans after a slight cleansing ;)
Finally dont be put off by the seemingly long process;its actually quite simple once u start and definitely well worth a effort! So wont u try it and let me know how it turned out?

Ultimate Foodie at 1:55 PM



at January 11, 2007 at 8:14:00 PM PST Blogger usharani said...

Ur chettinadu karakulambu is very nice&impresssive.Tomorrow i am going to try and will contact u with good results.

at January 11, 2007 at 9:13:00 PM PST Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dhiv,

I am tempted to try the recipie today itself. Nice photos.


at January 12, 2007 at 6:25:00 AM PST Blogger Asha said...

I love Eggplants and I will try this dish.Looks great.Thank you!:)
Happy Pongal!

at January 12, 2007 at 8:57:00 AM PST Blogger Priya Dilip said...

Hi ..
First time visiting your Blog... u have wonderful recipes for the food stuff i love.. eg: burrito, guacomole and Bananna Bread.. And not to mention i love brinjals in any kind of indian gravy... After my vacation of a month and a half, will try your recipes and fill our plates..
Happy Pongal

Priya Dilip

at January 12, 2007 at 11:52:00 AM PST Blogger Priya Dilip said...

Ofcourse ... u can add.. and im adding your blog too...

at January 22, 2007 at 3:19:00 AM PST Blogger Andrew said...

A great take on the theme - looks wonderful. Many thanks for taking part Dhivya.

at January 27, 2007 at 7:27:00 AM PST Blogger Helene said...

Hello Dhivya,
thanks a lot for this wonderful delicious recipe. I had to adjust to German circumstances and taste, but we enjoyed every bite. Here my first try:
Hope you like it.

at February 23, 2007 at 7:49:00 AM PST Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent Recipe
Thank you Dhivya


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