Tawa Bread Pizza| How To Make Pizza Using Bread Slices On A Pan

Are you looking for an easy yet delicious and satisfying dinner idea?Try out this Tawa Bread Pizza! I make the pizza with store-bought wheat bread slices, home-made sauce, and some of our favourite toppings, and it’s such a breeze! This is our favourite weekday dinner, especially Friday nights – it puts us right into the weekend frame of mind. 🙂

Pizza doesn’t have to be junk food at all – made the right way, it can be a wholesome treat. Just make sure you are buying whole wheat bread with no artificial additives, limited or no refined sugar, and no preservatives. Making the pizza sauce at home helps you to control the ingredients that go into it – no artificial colours or flavours or preservatives there too. I use toppings like home-made paneer, cucumber, pineapple and grated carrot for my little daughter, with a bit of cheese, making the pizza super healthy. For the hubby and me, the cucumber is foregone and store-bought jalapenos, red paprika and pitted olives are added to the toppings – that’s okay occasionally, I think. If I can get my hands on some hand-made artisanal cheese, it finds its way to this Tawa Bread Pizza. Otherwise, I’m partial to Amul cheese!

My mother gifted me a grill pan from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s WonderChef collection for my last birthday, and I’m loving every bit of it. It’s just awesome for sandwiches, tandoori appetisers, and for making Tawa Bread Pizza. A regular thick dosa pan would work beautifully as well.

Now, without further ado, here’s how I make the Tawa Bread Pizza. I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group, the week’s theme being #PizzaMania. Preethi, who has some really innovative recipes on offer on her blog Preethi’s Cuisine, suggested the theme for the week.

Ingredients (for 10 bread pizza):

For the pizza sauce:

  1. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 medium-sized onion
  3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Red chilli powder to taste
  6. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  7. 1/2 tablespoon mixed Italian dried herbs or as needed

Other ingredients:

  1. 10 bread slices
  2. 1 small capsicum, chopped length-wise
  3. 1 medium-sized onion, sliced length-wise
  4. 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  5. About 2 tablespoons pitted and sliced black olives
  6. 1 tablespoon sliced red paprika
  7. 100 grams paneer, cut into cubes
  8. 3 cubes of cheese or as needed
  9. Mixed Italian dried herbs, as needed

Method:

Let us first prepare the pizza sauce.

1. Chop the tomatoes roughly, and add to a mixer jar. Peel the onion, chop roughly, and add to the mixer jar. Peel the garlic cloves and add to the mixer jar too. Grind together to a puree.

2. Transfer the puree to a pan, and place on high flame. When the puree starts cooking, reduce flame to medium and cover. Cook covered on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the puree thickens and reaches a spreadable consistency. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Switch off gas.

3. Add salt and red chilli powder, jaggery powder and Italian herbs. Mix well. Your home-made pizza sauce is ready.

3. Allow the pizza sauce to cool down fully. If you don’t plan to use it immediately, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight container after cooling. Store refrigerated.

Here’s how to make the Tawa Bread Pizza.

1. Place a grill pan or thick dosa pan on high flame. Drizzle a little oil all over it. Let the pan get nice and hot.

2. When the pan gets hot, place 2 slices of bread on it or as many as you can accommodate without overcrowding the pan. Turn flame down to medium.

3. Let the bread slices get crisp on the bottom and slightly brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Then, flip the slices over, using a spatula.

4. Cook on medium flame for a minute or so, till the bread slices get crisp on the other side too. Transfer the slices onto a plate.

5. We will now assemble the Tawa Bread pizza. Meanwhile, turn the flame down to the lowest and toast 2 more slices of bread similarly, till crisp on both sides. Simultaneously, spread some pizza sauce on the two bread slices you already toasted, then top with chopped onion and capsicum, olive and red paprika slices, paneer cubes, sweet corn kernels and grated cheese, all as needed. Drizzle some mixed Italian dried herbs on top.

6. When the second batch of bread slices is done toasting, transfer them to a plate.

7. Place the assembled bread pizza on the pan. Cook covered on low flame till the cheese melts and the veggies are slightly cooked, 1-2 minutes. Take care to ensure that the pizza doesn’t burn. Once done, serve the Tawa Bread Pizza immediately.

8. Alternate between toasting bread slices, assembling the pizza and then cooking the assembled pizza till all slices are used up.

Notes:

1. I prefer using the more flavourful country (Nati) tomatoes to make the pizza sauce, over the ‘farm’ variety.

2. The garlic in the pizza sauce can be avoided, if you don’t prefer it.

3. Sugar can be used in place of jaggery powder, in the pizza sauce.

4. I have used slices of whole wheat bread to make the pizza. You can use any variety of bread you prefer instead too.

5. I have used cubes of Amul processed cheese here. You can use any other type of cheese you like, too.

6. I have used the veggies we prefer, as a family, in the pizza toppings. You can use the ones you like – babycorn, mushrooms, potatoes, jalapenos, tomatoes, pineapple, eggplant, carrot..the list is endless. Let your imagination run wild!

7. You can use as many or as few veggies as you like, for topping the pizza. Similarly, adjust the quantity of cheese you use depending upon personal taste preferences.

8. The above quantities yield close to 3/4 cup of pizza sauce. Use as much of the sauce as you prefer, in the bread pizza. Any leftover pizza sauce can be stored in a clean, dry, air-tight container. Refrigerated and used hygienically, this sauce stays well for about a week. The sauce can be used to make pasta too.

9. I don’t blanch or roast the tomatoes for preparing the pizza sauce.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Vendakkai More Kozhambu| Okra Cooked In Curd Gravy, Tamilnadu Style

More Kozhambu is the South Indian version of kadhi, if I may, a flavourful preparation using curd. In Tamil, this literally translates into ‘buttermilk (more) gravy (kozhambu)‘. Unlike the sweetish Gujarati kadhi or the delicious Punjabi pakodewali kadhi though, More Kozhambu is made fragrant with ingredients like green chillies, dry red chillies, coconut, ginger, cumin and coriander seeds. Vegetables like ash gourd, okra or ladies’ finger, drumsticks and brinjal often figure in More Kozhambu, as do lentil vadas. Today, I am going to share with you all our family recipe for Vendekkai More Kozhambu, i.e. more kozhambu made using okra.

With crispy okra cooked in a fragrant and flavourful curd mixture, this Vendekkai More Kozhambu makes for a beautiful accompaniment to piping hot steamed rice, with a dollop of ghee added in for good measure. It also goes well with adai, delectable savoury lentil pancakes made Tamilnadu-style. The more kozhambu isn’t very tough to prepare either – with a little bit of prior preparation, it takes only a few minutes to put together.

Different families prepare more kozhambu in different ways, with minor variations in cooking techniques, the basic ingredients remaining more or less the same. This is the way Vendekkai More Kozhambu has always been made in our family, the way I learnt making it from Amma. This is a vegetarian recipe, one that can easily be made gluten-free just by omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering.

I’m sharing this recipe for the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of food bloggers cooking dishes from a different part of India every month. The participants are paired up, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, which are then used to cook a dish from the state of the month. This month, the members of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge group are exploring food from the South Indian state of Tamilnadu, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to showcase on my blog one more beautiful recipe from the rich culinary legacy my home state possesses. I was paired with the very talented Poonam of Annapurna for the month, who has an awe-inspiring collection of traditional Maharashtrian recipes as well as well-researched procedures for foods from across the globe. Poonam assigned to me the two secret ingredients of ‘chana dal‘ and ‘dry red chillies’, and this Vendekkai More Kozhambu is what I chose to use them in. You must visit Poonam’s blog to check out the gorgeous dish she made using the ingredients I gave her!

Let’s now go through the recipe for Vendekkai More Kozhambu without further ado.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 8-10 okra aka ladies fingers
  2. 1/2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. A pinch of fenugreek seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 2 cups of thick curd
  7. Between 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water or as needed
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

For the spice paste:

  1. 1 tablespoon chana dal
  2. 2 dry red chillies
  3. 1 green chilli
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
  6. 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  7. 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut

Method:

1. Soak the chana dal, dry red chillies (broken roughly), cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a little water, for 20-25 minutes. This is to soften these ingredients to help make the spice paste easily.

2. Meanwhile, add the 3/4 cup of water or as needed to the curd to bring it to a thick-but-runny consistency. Add in salt, curry leaves and turmeric powder. Whisk gently to mix the ingredients well together. Keep aside.

3. Wash the okra well under running water. Pat dry using a cotton cloth. Remove the tops from the okra. Chop into 1-1/2 inch long pieces. Keep aside.

4. When the ingredients we soaked are soft enough, transfer them to a small mixer jar, along with the little water we used for soaking. Peel the ginger, chop roughly and add to the mixer jar. Chop up the green chilli roughly and add to the mixer jar. Add in the fresh grated coconut too. Grind everything together to a coarse paste.

5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add in the okra pieces, along with a little salt. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or until the okra is cooked.

6. Now, keeping the flame on medium, add the curd mixture to the pan. Add in the spice paste we ground earlier too. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture comes to a boil. If the consistency is too thick, you may add in a little water at this stage.

7. At this stage, reduce flame a bit more. Simmer the mixture for a minute or so. Switch off gas.

8. Now, we will prepare the tempering . Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add in the fenugreek seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Add this tempering to the curd mixture. Mix well.

9. Your Vendakkai More Kozhambu is ready. Keep it covered for at least a few minutes before serving for the dish to absorb the flavours of the tempering. You can serve it hot, warm or at room temperature, with steamed rice and a poriyal of your choice.

Notes:

1. Make sure the okra is well cooked, but not soggy before you add in the curd mixture to the pan. The okra should have lost its stickiness but should not be overly cooked.

2. Be careful while adding salt to the curd as you have lightly salted the okra too.

3. I use home-made thick curd to make the Vendakkai More Kozhambu. You can use store-bought curd instead too.

4. Make sure you keep the flame low while you add the curd mixture to the pan, to ensure that it does not curdle.

5. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies and green chilli you add in for the spice paste, depending upon personal taste preferences.

6. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the Vendakkai More Kozhambu to be.

7. Do not cook the more kozhambu too much after it comes to a boil. Just a short simmer, and it’s done.

8. The Vendakkai More Kozhambu thickens further upon cooling. It is, therefore, best to keep the texture runny when you finish.

9. Some families dry roast the ingredients for the spice paste before grinding them. We soak the hard ingredients, then add in the other requirements and grind everything together. You can choose any one method.

10. I have sauteed the ladies’ fingers in oil till cooked through, before adding the curd mixture to the pan, the way we do it in our family. Alternatively, you may even deep fry the ladies’ fingers.

11. Coconut oil or gingelly oil (nalla ennai) works best in the making of this Vendekkai More Kozhambu. However, you may use any other type of oil you prefer instead, too.

12. Toor dal can be used in the spice mix, too, instead of chana dal. You can also use a mix of chana dal and urad dal.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Ven Pongal| Khara Pongal

I wasn’t always a fan of Ven Pongal, the peppery rice-and-lentil confection that is so very popular in South India. Growing up in Ahmedabad, it always meant to me boring food for the sick or the elderly, with nothing – absolutely nothing – to its credit. It was only after I moved to Bangalore that I tasted some really well-made versions of Ven Pongal, and realised just how beautiful it can be. My love for this savoury pongal grew with time, helped along by the fact that the husband appreciates it a whole lot. Trial and error taught me to perfect this dish, and it is soul-satisfying comfort food for me today.

Ven Pongal, also called Khara Pongal, is a thing of great joy when made right. No wonder it is such a popular breakfast dish down South (Psst: We love having it for lunch or dinner too!). You will also often come across Ven Pongal being served as ‘tiffin’ in weddings and religious events, in South India. It makes a frequent appearance as prasadam in temples, and in homes as an offering to the Goddess Durga, for Navratri. This is one of the types of pongal prepared for the Pongal festival in January, alongside the sweet version.

We prefer the Khara Pongal runny, moderately spiced with coarsely crushed pepper, slit green chillies and cumin giving it a flavour boost. I don’t use any milk in it, or cashewnuts – we love it in all its simplicity. More so because it is so very easy to prepare and so light on the tummy!

I share below my way of making Ven Pongal, the way my family likes it. I have also included tips and tricks to get the taste and texture just right. Do try it out this festive season – I would love to hear how you liked it!

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. 1/4 cup moong dal
  3. 2 tablespoons ghee
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 2 dry red chillies
  7. 2 green chillies
  8. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  9. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Method:

1. Take the rice and moong dal in a wide vessel. Wash well under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water.

2. Add 4-1/2 cups of water to the rice and moong dal in the vessel. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for about 5 whistles, or till the ingredients are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Meanwhile, coarsely pulse the black peppercorns in a small mixer jar. Keep aside.

4. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, open it and get the cooked rice and moong dal out. Mash them well, using a potato masher. Keep aside.

6. Heat the ghee in a large pan or kadhai. Add the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Now, add the slit green chillies, dry red chillies, asafoetida, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care not to burn them.

7. Now, add the cooked and mashed rice and moong dal to the pan. Also, add in about 1 cup water, salt to taste and the coarsely crushed black peppercorns. Mix well.

8. Turn the flame down to medium. Let everything cook together on medium heat till well integrated and the pongal starts to thicken. If too thick, add some more water. Switch off gas when done – should take 3-4 minutes. Your Ven Pongal or Khara Pongal is ready. Serve hot with a simple coconut chutney, gojju or raita of your choice.

Notes:

1. Sona Masoori or Kollam rice work best in the making of this Ven Pongal. Any non-fragrant variety of rice would work.

2. Don’t skimp on the ghee. A good amount of ghee is a must in Ven Pongal.

3. Some people dry roast the rice and moong dal till fragrant, before proceeding to make the Khara Pongal. We don’t.

4. You may use a little less moong dal if want the Ven Pongal to be a bit less sticky. I prefer the above proportion of rice and moong dal. Some people prefer using 1/2 cup of moong dal for 1 cup of rice.

5. Some people prefer using whole peppercorns in Ven Pongal, while some others prefer using coarsely crushed cumin and peppercorns. I like keeping the cumin whole, but coarsely crush the peppercorns.

6. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Ven Pongal you require. The above recipe yields runny pongal, the way we like it in our family. Please do keep in mind that the Ven Pongal thickens considerably upon cooling – hence, it is best served hot.

7. Age-old Ven Pongal recipes do not suggest the use of green chillies or dry red chillies. They use only black peppercorns for spicing up the pongal – either whole or coarsely crushed. I, however, like adding in green chillies and dry red chillies.

8. Slivers of coconut, broken cashewnuts and finely chopped ginger can be added to the tempering too. I usually avoid these.

9. Make sure the rice and moong dal are well cooked and mashed, before proceeding to make this Khara Pongal.

10. Some households cook the rice and moong dal in a mix of water and (boiled and cooled) milk. We usually use only water.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Nataraja Iyer Rasam| Flavourful Rasam Recipe From A Culinary Legend

In a typical Tamilian household, rasam is comfort food. Piping hot rasam is the antidote for most ills, right from the sniffles to the flu. And why not? Made with ingredients like pepper, ginger and cumin, rasam does have medicinal properties. The tangy flavour that tamarind, tomatoes and/or lemon lend to rasam makes it just the perfect thing to enliven tastebuds that have grown dull. It is very light on the stomach, easy to digest, as well. Rasam is soul food at our place too, with several different versions being prepared from time to time. I bring to you today the recipe for a special kind of rasam, straight from a culinary legend of Tamilnadu – Nataraja Iyer Rasam.

About Nataraja Iyer

Nataraja Iyer is not a new name in the South Indian food industry, particularly in Chennai (erstwhile Madras). He was a stalwart in the field of event catering, a man who started off small but who grew through the ranks. His career had a very humble beginning – he started off serving tables at small eateries in Trichy, when he was but a little boy himself. He came from a family of cooks, and would assist his grandfather, doing odd jobs in the kitchen, while the old man catered for weddings and other occasions.

Soon enough, Nataraja Iyer came into his own, both in terms of cooking and catering. In the 1940s or so, he started catering events on his own, business growing by leaps and bounds as more and more people started talking about the brilliant food he dished up. So great was his draw that people would immediately agree to be guests at a wedding when they would come to know that the food was to be catered by Nataraja Iyer. He catered for several celebrity weddings in Chennai, in the course of which VV Giri (former President of India) bestowed upon him the title of ‘Arusuvai Arasu‘ i.e. king of all the six tastes that constitute good food, namely sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent.

Arusuvai Arasu Caterers – started by Nataraja Iyer, now run by his children after the legend’s passing away in 2018 – remains a well-respected establishment in Tamilnadu till date. However, in spite of his huge achievements in the culinary field, having served at over 75,000 events spanning his career, Nataraja Iyer stayed a humble man till the end. He believed in sharing his knowledge, and started writing a column in the famed Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan with just that end in mind. He shared recipes for some of his signature dishes – rasam, vattalkozhambu, milagu kozhambu, kadappa, rasavangi and paal payasam, for instance – in his column to make sure they reached the masses. There’s much to learn from the life of this great man, indeed!

Nataraja Iyer Rasam

One of the most delicious rasam versions ever, Nataraja Iyer Rasam is a big-time favourite in our household. I remember my grandmother making this rasam – thanks to Ananda Vikatan I suppose – to much adulation. The recipe passed down in our family, and I occasionally prepare it too.

Nataraja Iyer Rasam does not call for any pre-made spice powder. Freshly ground cumin and black peppercorns flavour it, with spiciness also coming from the ginger, dry red chillies and green chillies that are added in. The bit of jaggery used in the rasam gives it a sweet tinge, which beautifully balances out the tang from the tomatoes and tamarind. Quite interestingly, there is a wee amount of fenugreek seeds used in the tempering, probably for inducing slight bitterness, a la ‘Arusuvai Arasu’.

This is a completely vegetarian recipe, suitable to those who follow a vegan or plant-based diet. It can be made entirely gluten-free simply by avoiding the asafoetida used in the tempering.

How to make Nataraja Iyer Rasam

Without further ado, let me now share the recipe for Nataraja Iyer Rasam. Try it out, and I’m sure you will fall in love with it too!

I share this recipe for #RasamRaaga, the theme for the week at Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme was chosen by me so as to celebrate the very versatile rasam, also keeping in mind the chilly weather these days. September 2019 marks the first death anniversary of Nataraja Iyer, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to him than this post.

So, here we go.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1/4 cup toor dal
  2. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 2 green chillies
  6. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  7. 4-5 dry red chillies
  8. About 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  10. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  11. Salt to taste
  12. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

For the tempering:

  1. 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  4. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  5. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

For the garnishing:

2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal well under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor dal fully. Pressure cook the toor dal for 6-7 whistles on high flame, or till it is cooked thoroughly. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for 10-15 minutes or till it softens. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

3. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.

4. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

5. Peel the ginger. Chop very finely. Keep aside.

6. In a small mixer jar, grind the cumin and peppercorns together, coarsely. Keep aside.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has fully gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it well. Keep aside.

8. Adding water little by little, extract all the juice out of the tamarind. You would get about half cup of tamarind water, approximately. Keep aside.

9. Heat a pan and add the chopped tomatoes and finely chopped ginger to it. Add in about 2 tablespoons of water and a little salt. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes turn mushy.

10. Add the tamarind water, salt to taste, dry red chillies (broken), slit green chillies, turmeric powder and curry leaves. Cook on high flame till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, 2-3 minutes.

11. Now, add the cooked and mashed toor dal to the pan. Also add about 1-1/2 cups water, the jaggery powder and the coarsely crushed cumin and peppercorns. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

12. Cook on high flame till the mixture comes to a boil. Then, reduce flame to medium and simmer for a couple of minutes. Switch off gas.

13. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the rasam. Heat the ghee in a small pan. Add mustard, and allow it to pop. Lower flame to medium. Add the cumin seeds for the tempering, asafoetida and fenugreek seeds. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas. Add this tempering to the rasam.

14. Add the finely chopped coriander leaves to the rasam. Mix well. Your flavourful Nataraja Iyer Rasam is ready to serve! Serve it hot, with hot steamed rice and a South Indian-style poriyal on the side.

Notes:

1. Adjust the quantity of tamarind and jaggery you use, as per personal taste preferences.

2. A few cloves of garlic, crushed, can be added in to the rasam while it is simmering. This adds a beautiful taste to it.

3. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the rasam you desire.

4. Do not use too much of fenugreek in the tempering, as this will make the rasam overly bitter.

5. Country (nati) tomatoes are best for making this rasam, rather than ‘farm’ ones.

6. Oil can be used in the tempering, instead of ghee.

7. I used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu and the not-so-fiery Bydagi dry red chillies to make the rasam.

8. Make sure the toor dal is well cooked and mashed, before using it in the rasam.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal| Smoked Eggplant Chutney

The subject of today’s post, Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal, is something I grew up with. That’s Tamil for ‘Smoked Eggplant Chutney’, an absolutely brilliant confection that works wonderfully with idlis, dosas, pooris and steamed rice alike. An eggplant is char-grilled on the stovetop, then peeled and used to make this chutney, as the name suggests. A unique smoky flavour permeates this chutney, which is made all the more flavourful by the addition of lentils and tamarind.

Char-grilled or smoked eggplant is used to make a variety of dishes, all over India. There’s Baingan Bharta, for instance, or Smoked Eggplant Raita. There’s a delectable chutney made using smoked eggplant in Andhra Pradesh, which uses green chillies. This Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal, however, is a Tamilnadu version of the chutney. It is a heritage recipe, one it wouldn’t be wrong to term a ‘lost recipe of India’.

Like I was saying in this post, we aren’t big fans of smoked food, at home. Our Baingan Bharta is made with a pressure-cooked eggplant rather than a char-grilled one. This Smoked Eggplant Chutney is one dish for which we are happy to make an exception. 🙂 Also, of late, I’ve been getting more and more intrigued about the process of infusing foods with a smoky aroma – you guys will definitely see a slew of smoked food recipes here in the times to come!

Coming to the Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal, what I present to you today is a family recipe, the way it has always been prepared in our household. This delicious chutney is completely vegetarian, suitable for those following a vegan or plant-based diet. It can easily be made gluten-free too, by just omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering.

Now, without further ado, let me take through the procedure for making Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal or Smoked Eggplant Chutney.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

  1. 1 large purple eggplant (kathrikkai)
  2. A small piece of tamarind
  3. 1 teaspoon oil
  4. 1-1/2 tablespoons chana dal
  5. 1-1/2 tablespoons urad dal
  6. 3-4 dry red chillies
  7. Salt to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  4. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method:

1. Wash the eggplant well under running water. Pat dry, using a cotton cloth.

2. Insert a skewer into the bottom of the eggplant, so that it is easy for you to roast it over an open fire.

3. Switch gas on and place the eggplant over the fire, holding the skewer. Roast the eggplant well, on high flame till the skin on top starts wrinkling. Then, turn the flame down to medium and roast some more, till the eggplant flesh gets soft, the skewer loosens, the skin on top is charred, and the eggplant begins to release its juices and a smoky aroma permeates the air. Switch off gas at this stage – it should take you 8-10 minutes in all.

4. Transfer the roasted eggplant to a plate. Allow to cool down fully.

5. In the meantime, soak the tamarind in a little hot water. Allow it to soften.

6. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add in the chana dal, urad dal and the dry red chillies (broken). Fry on medium flame till the dal turns a little brown. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Now, transfer the fried ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.

7. When the roasted eggplant has entirely cooled down, peel off the skin and discard it. Tear off the flesh roughly, using your hands, and place it in a mixer jar.

8. To the mixer jar, add the soaked tamarind, along with the water it was soaked in. Also add in salt to taste and the fried chana dal, urad dal and dry red chillies. Don’t add any more water, as the roasted eggplant will have its own juices.

9. Grind the ingredients in the mixer jar coarsely, without making a very fine paste. Transfer the ground chutney to a serving bowl.

10. Now, we will make the tempering for the chutney. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add in mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, ensuring that they do not burn. Pour this tempering over the chutney, and mix well. Your Smoked Eggplant Chutney is now ready to serve, alongside idlis, dosas, steamed rice or pooris.

The following is a pictorial depiction of the steps involved in the recipe.

Top to bottom, left to right, a pictorial depiction of these steps in the making of the Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal

Notes:

  1. Use an eggplant that is fresh and firm, with skin that is shiny and free of wrinkles. Ensure that the eggplant has no holes in it – holes indicate the possible presence of worms in the eggplant.
  2. The eggplant you use should be light in weight in spite of its large size. This usually indicates fewer seeds, which in turn translates into a tastier Smoked Eggplant Chutney.
  3. Some people smear a little oil all over the eggplant, before roasting it. This is done to ensure even cooking. I don’t – the eggplant does get roasted well and evenly even without a coating of oil.
  4. Make sure you turn the eggplant around well while roasting, exposing all sides to the fire. The eggplant should be evenly and thoroughly cooked, before you use it in the chutney. If there are any hard, uncooked bits, remove them before proceeding to make the chutney.
  5. Usually, the skin of the roasted eggplant comes off easily. However, if it doesn’t, dunk it in some cold water for a couple of minutes – this should make it easier for you to peel the skin off.
  6. If there are bits and pieces of the skin remaining on the eggplant, don’t fret about it too much. It imparts a lovely smoky aroma to the chutney.
  7. I have used a large purple eggplant here, of the kind that is used to make Baingan Bharta. You may use small eggplants or long ones to make the chutney instead, too.
  8. Adjust the quantity of tamarind you use as per personal taste preferences. If the tamarind has seeds/impurities, remove them before using.
  9. I have used a mix of the hot Salem Gundu and the not-so-fiery Bydagi chillies to make this Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal. You can use any variety of dry red chillies you prefer.
  10. Ginger, garlic, small onions, curry leaves and jaggery can also be added to this chutney. I have kept it very basic and avoided these ingredients.
  11. Do not use too much water while grinding the chutney. The roasted eggplant will have its own juices, which are sufficient for you to grind the chutney. If you are finding it difficult to grind, however, you may use a couple of teaspoons of water.
  12. Do not grind the chutney into a fine paste. For best results, it should be coarsely ground, with bits and pieces of roasted dal still intact.
  13. Not too fond of the smoky aroma? You can do away with the eggplant roasting, in that case. Just chop the eggplant into cubes and saute them in a little oil till they are cooked through. Use the cooked eggplant to make a chutney, the same way as above.
  14. I have roasted the eggplant on the stovetop here, as we have always done in my family. You can even use an OTG or microwave oven to do so.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!