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


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


  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!


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