Tender baby eggplants stuffed with a spicy lentil powder (koora podi). What can I say..... it's a favorite across generations in my family. In fact, my husband's grandfather's love for eggplants was legendary. He was lovingly called "vankaya muchika" because he would devour the baby eggplants along with their stems . Vegetables, especially in rural places are very fresh and tender, so I can totally see that happening .
You will find variants of this dish all across India. The stuffing will probably be a little different. In fact, even in Andhra, each family will have their own recipe for koora podi. There are a few tricks that are helpful to get this dish just right, without using too much oil. I am sharing a few tips that I have discovered in my numerous attempts at this dish.
Tender baby eggplants -14-15
Koora podi - a little less than 1/2 cup approximately (quantity will depend on size of eggplants)
Salt to taste
Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig or 5 to 10 leaves
Oil - 3-4 tbsp
Wash and slit baby eggplants as shown in the pictures and soak in salted water till you slit them all.
Mix koora podi with salt and turmeric. The podi should taste slightly more salty because they flavor the eggplants from the inside. I have noticed that if i add a little less salt they taste bland because the salt does not seep through the eggplant.
Stuff the eggplants with the spice powder.
Take a wide pan with lots of room for the eggplants to fry. If they are one on top of the other they will steam and not fry.
Add 3 tbsp of oil, once it is warm, add curry leaves and place the eggplants gently in the oil making sure that they don't overlap.
Sprinkle a little salt to flavor the outside of the eggplants.
Stir gently and let them fry on medium low heat.
Once they are coated in oil on all sides and fry on one side, flip them. This is where the stems come in handy.
Sprinkle a tbsp of water and cover.
Cook for a few minutes and stir, if the pan looks dry, sprinkle a few more drops.
Be cautious as to not add too much water. If the podi starts burning, add a little oil and continue frying till they are soft when pressed and cooked all the way through.
Enjoy with steaming hot rice!
Here is the picture of the meal they were in. Those babies stole the show!
On the plate:
Gutti vankaya koora - stuffed baby eggplant
Menthi koora pappu - yellow lentils with fenugreek greens
Beerakaya koora - Ridge gourd curry
Beerakaya tokku pacchadi - Ridge gourd skin chutney
Perugu - homemade yogurt
Annam - steamed rice