Recipe and Photo Courtesy: Priya(my friend)
Ingredients for masala:
Coconut 4-5 tbsp
Dhaniya seeds/Coriander seeds 2 tbsp
Til/ Sesame seeds 2 tbsp
Jeera seeds/cumin seeds 1 tsp
Methi seeds/Fenugreek seeds ½ tsp
Groundnuts (without skin) 8-10
Khus khus/ Poppy seeds 3 tsp
Tamarind ¾ tsp
Dry roast the above.
Once it cools, form a paste with very very little water. Add jaggery(crushed about 11/2 tsp). Separate half of the masala and keep aside. This is the stuffing for the eggplants.
Take about 12 tender indian eggplants (baby brinjals) and slit the bottom (the side opposite to the stem) with a horizontal and vertical line. Make sure not to cut it through. Scoop a teaspoon of the masala and stuff into the brinjal. Repeat the procedure till all the eggplants are stuffed.
Microwave the eggplants for about 10 min or till soft.
For the gravy:
Oil 2 Tbsp
Onions 1 ½ (cut in squares)
Crushed tomatoes-about 2 tbsp (optional)
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder 1/2 tsp
Garam masala 2 tsp
Green chilies 2 slit in half
Ginger garlic paste 1 1/2 tsp
Stuffed baby eggplants 12
Masala made above
-Fry one onion in oil and caramelize .After it cools grind it in a blender.
-In a wide pan, add oil. Once hot, add green chilies, half an onion and Ginger garlic paste. Sauté for 5 min.
-Add the blended onions and crushed tomatoes. Also add turmeric powder, chilly powder, salt and garam masala. Fry for 4 min (or till the raw smell of onions reduce).
-With the remaining masala, form a paste and pour it into the mixture. Let the mixture cook for about 3 min
-Check the gravy for salt or any other flavor at this point
-Gently place the eggplants in the pan with the slit side down.
-Close the pan to cook to make sure the eggplant is cooked thoroughly. (Use a fork to test)
-Serve spicy, tangy, sweet Vankaya masala with rice or phulkas!
[In the picture shown, I used the same recipe. I didn’t have Indian eggplants. So replaced them with half an American eggplant (cut in cubes) and one bell pepper/capsicum (cut in squares). I used the entire masala in the gravy (so there was no stuffing involved!)
Enjoy Vankaya masala - with a twist!]