Vankaya ullikaaram - Eggplant onion curry

March 8, 2017

Here is another traditional Andhra style preparation of eggplant. Vankaya = eggplant, ulli= onion and kaaram= heat. These are pretty much the ingredients used in this preparation. The spice mix consists of lots of onions, dry red chillies and cumin seeds. It is unabashedly 'oniony' in the most wonderful way. From the moment you start cooking it to the moment it lands in your mouth, it screams onion, but in a good way. Ullikaaram is also used with potatoes and dondakaya/tindora/kundru/ivy gourd. 

Funny story, soon after I cooked this dish, I had to rush as I was running late to drop my son at his class. I did not get a chance to change my clothes. As I settled down in a chair taking my coat off waiting for my son at his class, I got the whiff of the ullikaaram I just prepared at home. I was thoroughly embarrassed about it. My good friend walks up to chat with me and exclaims that I smell delicious :) :). As embarrassing as this is, I take it as a testimonial for this dish.

While cooking eggplant we have to be careful to cook it while it is fresh, the moment brown spots appear on the inside when you cut into it, it will remain rubbery even after it is cooked. So please use up your eggplant in the first couple of days of buying it. You can slit them and stuff them the way I have done here, or you can dice them, start cooking them and when they are halfway done, you can add the onion mix and continue cooking. When you slit the first one, check the seeds inside, if they are very dark and pronounced, then the eggplant is getting old and it might be better to dice it. No point in going through the effort of making stuffed eggplant. 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Baby eggplants (Indian eggplant) - 12

Yellow onions - 4 medium sized diced 

Dry red Chillies - 4-5 according to taste

Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tsp

Olive oil - 5 tbsp

Turmeric - 1/4 tsp

Salt to taste

 

Procedure:

  1. Wash and slit your eggplant in a cross fashion without cutting it all the way. 

  2. Soak them in salted water.

  3. Take a saute pan and add 2 tbsp of oil, when the oil gets hot add the cumin seeds and red chillies. Always break the red chillies before adding, they have a tendency to burst if they are not broken.

  4. Once the cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add the onions, turmeric and salt and fry till they get cooked and soft. They don't have to get brown. 

  5. Once this is cool enough to handle, make a paste of it. It can be a little coarse, you don't have to make it super smooth. Taste it and adjust for salt and chilli if needed.

  6. This mix should taste salty and spicy. It is getting stuffed into this bland eggplant , so the onion mix should be salty and spicy enough to flavor the eggplant as well.

  7. Stuff this mix generously into each eggplant.

  8. Take 3 tbsp of oil in a large saute pan and place the eggplants in the oil. The pan has to be large enough to accommodate the eggplants in a single layer. The eggplants should get a chance to fry and not steam.

  9. Sprinkle a little salt on top of the eggplants.

  10. Let them fry and turn them after a few minutes. Resist the temptation to turn them often. They will break.

  11. Keep frying till they get seared on the outside on all sides.

  12. Add the remaining onion mix and 1/4 cup of water and mix well.

  13. Cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes, mix well and simmer again. The amount of time we simmer will depend on the size of the eggplants. The ones I had were large, so I had to simmer for 10 minutes.

  14. Remove the lid and fry for another 5 minutes. The curry should look slightly dry.

  15. Serve with steamed rice and a simple dal.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Wash and slit your eggplant in a cross fashion without cutting it all the way. 

Soak them in salted water.

Take a saute pan and add 2 tbsp of oil, when the oil gets hot add the cumin seeds and red chillies. Always break the red chillies before adding, they have a tendency to burst if they are not broken.

Once the cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add the onions and salt and fry till they get cooked and soft. They don't have to get brown. 

Once this is cool enough to handle, make a paste of it. It can be a little coarse, you don't have to make it super smooth. Taste it and adjust for salt and chilli if needed.

 

This mix should taste salty and spicy. It is getting stuffed into this bland eggplant , so the onion mix should be salty and spicy enough to flavor the eggplant as well.

Stuff this mix generously into each eggplant.

Take 3 tbsp of oil in a large saute pan and place the eggplants in the oil. The pan has to be large enough to accommodate the eggplants in a single layer. The eggplants should get a chance to fry and not steam.

Sprinkle a little salt on top of the eggplants.

Let them fry and turn them after a few minutes. Resist the temptation to turn them often. They will break.

Keep frying till they get seared on the outside on all sides.

 

 

Add the remaining onion mix and 1/4 cup of water and mix well.

Cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes, mix well and simmer again. The amount of time we simmer will depend on the size of the eggplants. The ones I had were large, so I had to simmer for 10 minutes.

 

 

Remove the lid and fry for another 5 minutes. The curry should look slightly dry.

 

Serve with steamed rice and a simple dal.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

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Hi There

I'm Sirisha. I cook simple vegetarian food. You will find Indian vegetarian family recipes and will be privy to my experiments. Happy cooking!

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