Murukku Chaat Recipe| How To Make Murukku Chaat

Murukku Chaat is the recipe I am going to be sharing with you all today. It is easy to put together and an absolute treat to the tastebuds. Just the perfect appetiser for your holiday parties!

Delicious Murukku Chaat

Recipe Inspiration: Sowcarpet Murukku Sandwich

This Murukku Chaat is inspired by the Murukku Sandwich of Sowcarpet. Sowcarpet, one of the oldest localities in Chennai, gets its name from the Hindi word ‘sahukar‘ (i.e. ‘businessman’). This is a bustling commercial area, with several small and big businesses operating from here. The narrow streets and vintage buildings in this part of town give it an old-world charm. It is a sight to behold, for sure, but there’s also another important reason to visit this place – the active food scene. Sowcarpet is home to several stalls and eateries selling a variety of interesting foods, of which Murukku Sandwich happens to be one.

Murukku Sandwich refers to a delicious confection made by sandwiching vegetables like onion, cucumber and tomato in between two murukkus (a twisted spiral of fried dough that’s super crispy). A generous amount of green chutney goes into this unique sandwich, which is served topped with loads of sev and, often, with grated cheese. This Murukku Chaat is similar, but also slightly different.

Murukku Chaat


What goes into this Murukku Chaat?

1. First, the base of the chaat which is, in this case, murukku. Use good-quality small murukku that are nice and crispy but not overly hard. You can make them from scratch or use store-bought ones. Here, I have used readymade murukku from Haldiram’s.

2. The hot green chutney and sweet-sour tamarind chutney are the major ingredients which add flavour to the chaat. I make these at home. Here’s my recipe for the green chutney and here’s the one for tamarind chutney.

3. Different veggies form the bulk of the chaat. I have used cooked and sliced potato, as well as sliced tomato, onion and cucumber. You can use cooked beetroot and grated carrot too, if you so prefer.

4. Fine sev (aka ‘zero number sev‘ or ‘nylon sev’) is used as a topping for the chaat. This kind of sev is not very easy to find here in Bangalore, but you do get it in a few select departmental stores. I prefer the nylon sev from the Garden brand as it’s nice and fine and tasty too.

5. Grated cheese is another topping used in the chaat. This is optional, but I would highly recommend using it – it adds so much taste and appeal to the dish. I have used regular Amul cheese here.

6. Chaat masala is sprinkled over the chaat. If I’m not making the chaat masala at home, I prefer using the one by Everest.

7. Roasted cumin powder is another thing that is sprinkled over this dish. I make this in small quantities at home, store in a dry and air-tight bottle, and use as needed. For this, I dry roast 4-5 tablespoons of cumin in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium flame till they are fragrant, then allow it to cool completely and grind coarsely.

If you are making this dish for a party, you can prep the ingredients well in advance, and then assemble the chaat just before serving. This Murukku Chaat is not the healthiest of holiday party appetisers, unlike these delicious steamed Mixed Vegetable Balls my fellow food blogger Preethi shared recently. However, it is quite the flavour bomb!

How to make Murukku Chaat

Like I was saying earlier, this Murukku Chaat is very simple to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

1. 12-14 small murukku

2. Spicy green chutney, as needed

3. 1 small potato

4. 1 small tomato

5. 1 small onion

6. 1 small cucumber

7. Sweet-sour tamarind chutney, as needed

8. 1/2 cup fine sev or as needed

9. Chaat masala, to drizzle over the chaat

10. Roasted cumin powder, to drizzle over the chaat

11. Grated cheese, as needed

Method:

1. Cut the potato into quarters. Place in a vessel and add in enough fresh water to cover the potato completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked potatoes out. Let them cool down fully, then peel them. Slice the cooked potatoes. Also, peel and slice the onion thinly. Chop the tomato and cucumber into rounds. Keep these vegetables ready.

The various stages of assembling the Murukku Chaat

3. Now, we will start assembling the Murukku Chaat. Spread some spicy green chutney on 6-7 small murukku and place on a serving plate, with the chutney side up. Place a potato slice on each murukku, then a cucumber slice on top. Place a slice of tomato on top of this, and a couple of slivers of onion. Drizzle some sweet-sour tamarind chutney on top of this, followed by some fine sev. Now, drizzle some chaat masala and roasted cumin powder. Add a little more spicy green chutney and sweet-sour tamarind chutney, then some grated cheese on top. The Murukku Chaat is ready – serve it immediately.

4. Assemble the other plate of Murukku Chaat similarly and serve immediately.

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

Masala Poori Chaat| How To Make Masal Poori

Masala Poori is a popular street food in the state of Karnataka. For the uninitiated, it refers to a warm chaat wherein a flavourful green pea gravy is poured over crushed crunchy pooris. This is served topped with sev, finely chopped onion and tomato, lots of coriander, and sweet and spicy chutneys.

In Bangalore, you will find Masala Poori (aka Masal Poori) being sold at almost every street corner. It is something I took a lot of time wrapping my head around – for me, chaat is never warm, always room temperature. However, as I began trying more of it, I started appreciating its many layers and even started liking it. It’s just the perfect thing for the overcast weather in Bangalore most part of the year and, when made right, can be absolutely delicious too.

One of my aunts, who has lived in Karnataka for decades, has a definite Kannadiga touch to her cooking. She is my go-to person for all things Kannada and culinary, from whom I have learnt many of the state’s heritage dishes. Masala Poori is the husband’s absolute favourite thing ever, so it is one of the very first things I learnt to make from her. Today, I’m going to share with you all how to make Masal Poori, the way I have learnt from my aunt, the way we make it at home.

A closer look at Masala Poori Chaat

There are three main components of a Masala Poori Chaat:

1. Crunchy golgappa pooris, i.e. the pooris that are used to make pani poori. You can make these from scratch if you prefer or buy the ready-to-use ones that are commonly available in departmental stores these days. I bought the flat ‘pani poori papads‘ that are available in several stores now, and then deep-fried them at home.

2. The green pea gravy that is poured over crushed pooris. It is always made using dried green peas, never fresh peas or dried yellow peas. The dried green peas are soaked, then cooked along with a few spices and other ingredients.

3. The toppings, which are similar to those used in any chaat – chopped onion and tomato, coriander, sev, and sweet and spicy chutneys. Here is how I make the sweet chutney at home, and here’s my recipe for the spicy green chutney.

I would like to add here that the making of Masala Poori is fairly simple though, at first glance, there seem to be many ingredients involved. Do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients or the lengthy method. There are a few easy steps to perform, after which putting together the Masala Poori is a breeze.

How to make Masal Poori

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To grind together – 1:

1. 4 medium-sized tomatoes

2. 1 small onion

3. 4-5 cloves garlic

4. A 1-inch piece of ginger

To grind together – 2:

1. A handful of fresh coriander, leaves + stems

2. A handful of fresh mint leaves

3. 2 green chillies or as per taste

Other ingredients:

1. 1 cup dried green peas

2. 1 medium-sized potato

3. 1 small carrot

4. Salt to taste

5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

6. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

7. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

8. 3/4 teaspoon garam masala

9. 3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds powder

10. 3/4 teaspoon chana masala

11. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

12. About 30 golgappas/ pani poori pooris

For garnishing:

1. 1 medium-sized onion

2. 1 small carrot

3. About 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves

4. 1 medium-sized tomato

5. Sweet-sour tamarind chutney, as required

6. Spicy green chutney, as needed

6. Fine sev, as needed

Method:

1. Soak the dried green peas in enough water to cover them completely, for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. When the peas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Take the drained peas in a wide vessel. Peel a medium-sized potato and a small carrot, chop them into large pieces, and add these to the peas in the vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover everything fully.

3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Allow to cook for about 4 whistles or till everything is well-cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

4. In the meantime, we will grind together the first set of ingredients needed for the Masala Poori. Peel the ginger, garlic cloves and onion and chop them roughly. Chop the tomatoes roughly too. Grind together the chopped ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes to a smooth puree. Keep aside.

5. Now, we will grind together the second set of ingredients we need. Chop the coriander leaves and stems and green chillies roughly. Add them to a mixer jar along with the mint leaves. Grind together to a smooth puree along with a little water. Keep aside.

6. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, get the vessel out. Transfer the cooked potato and carrot pieces and about 2 tablespoons of the cooked peas to a mixing bowl. Mash these well, using a potato masher. Keep the rest of the cooked green peas aside – do not discard the water they were cooked in.

7. Transfer the tomato puree we ground earlier to a large pan. Place on high flame. Once the pan gets heated up, reduce the flame down to medium. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the ingredients is gone completely. Stir intermittently.

8. Add some salt to the pan, along with turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Mix well.

9. Now, still keeping the flame at medium, add the coriander-mint puree we ground earlier, to the pan. Mix well.

10. Add in the cooked green peas, along with the water they were cooked in. Mix well.

11. Now, add the garam masala, coriander seeds powder and jaggery powder to the pan. Mix well.

12. Now, add in the mashed potato and carrot. Mix well.

13. Cook everything on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the gravy thickens and comes together. Stir intermittently. You may add more water if the gravy becomes too thick. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened but is still on the runnier side, as it will thicken up more upon cooling.

14. Mix in the lemon juice. The ‘masala‘ is ready. Keep it covered while we prepare for the chaat to be served.

15. Next, we will prepare the garnishing we need to serve the Masala Poori. Peel the onion and chop finely. Chop the tomato and coriander finely. Peel the carrot and grate medium-thick. Keep the sweet-sour tamarind chutney, spicy green chutney and fine sev ready.

16. When you are ready to serve the Masala Poori, ensure that the ‘masala‘ is warm if not hot. To assemble one portion, take 6-7 golgappas in a large bowl and break them up using your hands. Put a couple of ladles of the hot/warm ‘masala‘ on top of the pooris. Drizzle some sweet-sour tamarind chutney and spicy green chutney on top, as per taste. Add some chopped onion, tomato and coriander and grated carrot on top. Drizzle some fine sev on top of this and serve immediately.

17. Prepare all the portions of Masala Poori and serve the same way.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the amount of water you use depending upon the consistency of the masala you require. Ideally, it should be runny but not too watery. Also, do remember that it thickens up with time.

2. Don’t skip the jaggery. It adds a lovely flavour to the Masala Poori.

3. Sometimes, whole spices like cinnamon are added into the masala. I have skipped them because my family doesn’t prefer them.

4. Adjust the number of green chillies you use as per personal taste preferences. If the heat from the green chillies is enough, skip the red chilli powder completely.

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

Dal Palak Recipe| Spinach Dal

Dal Palak refers to lentils cooked with spinach, North Indian-style. It is a simple thing to prepare, yet highly delicious and nutritious. This is one of those dishes that will leave your tummy happy and soul satisfied. Serve it with plain rice, jeera rice or rotis, and you have an absolutely wonderful meal. Today, I am sharing the recipe for Dal Palak, the way I make it at home.

Winter is setting in here, and a variety of produce is slowly beginning to appear in the markets. The spinach available at this time of the year is absolutely beautiful, and it’s just perfect to use in this Dal Palak.

What goes into this Dal Palak?

I make this dish using toor dal. There’s a generous amount of spinach (‘palak‘ in Hindi) that goes in. I use a minimal amount of oil and spice powders.

The tempering for this Dal Palak is added in at the very end, restaurant-style, and it adds a world of flavour to the dish. Mustard, garlic and a few other spices are tempered in ghee and added to the Dal Palak.

How to make Dal Palak?

Like I was saying earlier, this is a very easy dish to put together. Here’s how I make it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  1. 1 medium-sized bunch of spinach, 2 cups when finely chopped
  2. 3/4 cup toor dal
  3. 1 medium-sized onion
  4. 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 2-3 green chillies
  7. 5-6 cloves of garlic
  8. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Red chilli powder to taste
  12. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder (optional)
  13. 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder or to taste
  14. 3/4 teaspoon garam masala or to taste
  15. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  16. 1/2 tablespoon ghee
  17. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  18. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  19. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  20. 2-3 dry red chillies

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal well under running water. Drain out all the water, then transfer the dal go to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Allow 7-8 whistles on high flame or till the dal is well cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Wash the spinach well, to remove all traces of mud from them. Then, chop finely and keep ready. I had 2 cups of spinach when finely chopped.

3. Peel the ginger and onion and chop finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep ready.

4. Peel the garlic cloves. Using a mortar and pestle, crush them roughly. Keep ready.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it thoroughly. Keep ready.

6. Now we will actually start making the Dal Palak. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the finely chopped onion and ginger as well as the slit green chillies. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute for 2-3 minutes on medium flame or till the onion cooks and changes colour.

7. Add in the chopped spinach, along with a bit of salt. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the spinach wilts and cooks. If needed, sprinkle some water to help the spinach cook.

8. Add in the chopped tomatoes, sprinkling some more water if needed. Cook covered on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the tomatoes turn mushy.

9. Add in the cooked and mashed toor dal and about 1-1/2 cups of water or as needed to adjust consistency.

10. Add salt and red chilli powder and the turmeric powder. Mix well.

11. Add in the jaggery powder, garam masala and coriander powder. Mix well.

12. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes on medium flame, stirring intermittently. The dal will start thickening up by this time. Switch off gas when the dal has thickened up, but is still on the runnier side. It will thicken up further upon cooling.

13. Mix in the lemon juice.

14. Now, we will prepare the tempering for the dal. Heat the ghee in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the cumin seeds, asafoetida, dry red chillies and crushed garlic cloves. Turn the flame down to low. Allow the ingredients to stay in the hot oil for a few seconds. Let the garlic cloves cook, taking care not to burn them. Switch off gas and add this tempering to the dal we prepared earlier. Cover the pan and allow the flavours of the tempering to seep into the dal, for at least 15 minutes. Now, the Dal Palak is ready to serve.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Use very fresh spinach, for best results. Chop it finely to ensure quick cooking. Tender stems can be used too.
  2. Skip the green chillies if you do not prefer using them.
  3. Adjust the quantity of garam masala and coriander powder as per personal taste preferences.
  4. Adding the jaggery is purely optional. I would recommend doing so, however. The jaggery does not make the dal sweet, but rounds off the other flavours beautifully.
  5. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice you use, as per personal taste preferences. Amchoor powder can be used instead, too.
  6. Make sure the toor dal is completely cooked before using it in making this dish.
  7. Make sure the spinach and tomatoes are well cooked before adding the toor dal to the pan.
  8. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending on the consistency of the dal you require.
  9. This is a completely vegetarian recipe, but not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of ghee. I would highly recommend using ghee, but do use oil for the tempering if you want to make this dish vegan.
  10. To make this dish gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.
  11. After the tempering is done, do not forget to keep the dal covered for a few minutes. This is an important step, which will help the flavours of the tempering integrate well with the dal.

Other dal recipes on the blog

I love experimenting with cooking lentils in different ways. I am a huge fan of simple and wholesome lentil dishes like this Dal Palak that eliminate the need for any other side dish.

There are quite a few other lentil/dal recipes on the blog, which you might be interested in checking out – Dhaba-style Dal Fry| Gujarati Khatti Meethi Dal| Dal Moradabadi| Healthy Dal Makhani| Andhra-style Tomato Pappu| Kaffir Lime Dal Tadka| Sri Lankan Dhal Curry| Gujarati Dal Dhokli| Maharashtrian Drumstick Amti| Parikkai Pitla

I am in love with this Rajasthani Pancharatna Dal on my fellow food blogger Poonam’s blog. I’m definitely going to try it out soon!

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

Frijoles Charros| Mexican Bean Soup

Frijoles Charros is a filling Mexican soup made using beans, which is believed to be invented by the cowboys of the olden days. The cowboys (aka ‘charros’) would slow-cook pinto beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, bacon, sausages, cilantro and other ingredients, till it reached a thick soup-like consistency – this is the dish that came to be known as Frijoles Charros. In today’s post, I am going to share with you all the recipe for this Mexican Bean Soup, my way, arrived at after several trials and tribulations.

This is a vegetarian version of the Mexican Bean Soup, made using no fancy ingredients or difficult techniques. As always, I have used only ingredients that are commonly available around me, in Bangalore. I am not saying this is an authentic recipe, but I know it definitely tastes delicious. Taste-wise, it comes very close to the bean soup available in Mexican eateries here. Ultimately satisfying and comforting, this Mexican Bean Soup can double up as lunch or dinner. With the rain in Bangalore showing no signs of letting up, this is just the perfect thing to have!

How to make Mexican Bean Soup

Here is how I go about it. Don’t be fazed by the long list of ingredients or the many steps in the proceedure. Trust me, it’s not a very difficult soup to put together. There are several separate steps that need to be executed before it all comes together to make the soup – every one of these is simple.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 3/4 cup rajma beans

2. 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels

3. 1 small onion

4. 5-6 garlic cloves

5. 1 small capsicum

6. 1 small carrot

7. 4 medium-sized tomatoes

8. 1/2 tablespoon oil

9. Salt to taste

10. Red chilli powder to taste

11. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder to taste (optional)

12. 3/4 tablespoon corn flour

13. 1-1/2 teaspoons Mexican seasoning or as needed

14. 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup (optional)

15. 3/4 tablespoon soya sauce (optional)

16. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

17. Grated cheese, as needed for garnishing

Method:

1. Soak the rajma beans in enough water for 8-10 hours or overnight.

2. When the beans are done soaking, drain out all the water. Discard the water. Transfer the soaked beans to a wide vessel and add in enough fresh water to cover them completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 8-10 whistles or till the beans are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meantime, we will get the veggies ready. Peel the carrot, onion and garlic and chop them finely. Remove the seeds and core from the capsicum and chop finely too. Thaw the sweet corn kernels and keep them ready.

4. Steam the carrot and sweet corn kernels till done. Keep them ready.

5. Chop the tomatoes roughly. Puree them smoothly. Keep aside.

6. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, check if the beans are soft enough. You should be able to crush them easily using two fingers. If you feel any hardness to them, you might have to pressure-cook them for a couple more whistles. Again, in that case, wait for the pressure to go down fully, naturally. When done, get the cooked beans out and keep them ready. Do not discard the water the beans were cooked in.

7. Take the tomato puree in a heavy-bottomed pan and place it over high heat. When the mixture heats up, reduce flame to medium. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of tomatoes goes away completely and the puree thickens. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. When done, switch off gas and keep ready.

8. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chopped onion, garlic and capsicum. Saute for 2-3 minutes on medium flame or till the veggies get cooked with a bit of crunch.

9. At this stage, add the steamed carrot and sweet corn kernels to the pan. Continue to keep the flame at medium.

10. Immediately add the cooked beans to the pan, along with the water they were cooked in.

11. Slightly crush some of the beans.

12. Now, still continuing to keep the flame at medium, add in the cooked tomato puree. Also add in the salt, jaggery powder and red chilli powder. Mix well. Let everything cook together on medium flame for 2-3 minutes.

13. Immediately add about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water to adjust the consistency of the soup. In a small bowl, mix the cornflour with about 2 tablespoons of water to make a lump-free slurry, then add this to the pan, stirring constantly. Let the mixture cook on high flame for 3-4 minutes or till it thickens up a bit. Switch off gas at this stage.

14. Add in the Mexican seasoning, followed by the tomato ketchup and soya sauce, if using.

15. Also add in the lemon juice. Mix well. The Mexican Bean Soup is ready. Serve hot, garnished with grated cheese.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used spotted Chitra rajma beans (from the foothills of the Himalayas) here. You can use any other variety of rajma (the small red Kashmiri beans or the large red ones that are very commonly available). You could also use any other variety of dried bean (white bean, black bean, butter bean, etc) instead.

2. The Chitra rajma took me a long time to pressure cook – almost 10 whistles – even after soaking it overnight. Adjust the cooking time as per the type of bean that you use. Remember that the beans should be well-cooked and soft, for a hearty and flavourful soup, but not overly mushy.

3. I have used Mexican seasoning by Keya here. If you don’t have it, you could use pasta/Italian seasoning + a dash of roasted cumin powder.

4. Paprika can be used in place of the red chilli powder I have used here.

5. The soya sauce and tomato sauce are optional. Skip them if you don’t prefer using them. I add them because they lend a beautiful flavour to the soup.

6. If using soya sauce, be careful while adding salt. Soya sauce contains quite a bit of salt already.

7. You can skip the cornflour if you prefer not to use it or use wheat flour instead. The soup will be slightly less thick if cornflour is not used.

8. I strongly suggest using jaggery powder as it lends a lovely taste to the soup. However, if you are against it, you could skip it.

9. I have used a vegetable steamer to steam the carrot and sweet corn kernels. You could use a pressure cooker instead.

10. Remember not to overcook the veggies. For a great-tasting soup, the veggies should be cooked through but still retain some amount of crunch.

11. I have used natural Cheddar cheese from D’lecta to garnish the soup. You could also use sliced jalapenos, olives and nachos for garnishing, if you prefer.

12. I have used frozen sweet corn kernels here. You could extract them from a whole corn cob instead, too.

13. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the soup to be.

14. Adjust the amount of lemon juice you use, depending upon the level of sourness you prefer.

15. This soup is completely vegetarian. If you want to make it vegan (plant-based), skip the cheese used in the garnishing or use vegan cheese instead. For a gluten-free version, do check out the ingredient list of the soya sauce and tomato sauce you use, and make sure it is free of wheat or any wheat-based products.

Other soup recipes on the blog

I have quite a few other soup recipes on the blog, which you might like to check out.

Italian Flavoured Tomato Soup| Sweet Corn Soup From Scratch| Lemon Coriander Soup| Palak Ka Shorba| Dal Ka Shorba| Karnataka Bonda Soup| Tom Kha or Vegetarian Thai Coconut Soup| Broccoli Almond Soup| Hot & Sour Vegetable Soup| Thai Tom Yum Vegetable Soup| Gujarati Moong Bean Soup

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

Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu| Kathrikkai Gojju

Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu refers to a Tamil-style delicious side dish made using brinjals (also called eggplants). It makes for a lovely accompaniment to many South Indian ‘tiffin’ items like idli, dosa, upma and khara pongal, and can be had with hot rice as well. It would go beautifully with this Kadamba Dosai that my fellow food blogger Kalyani has shared!

While Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu was always a part of our family breakfasts and lunches, I never really appreciated its taste till I grew up. Once I did, I fell in love with the layers of textures and flavours in this dish. Today, let me share with you all how to make this beautiful heritage dish. It is a simple thing to put together, but tastes absolutely fab!

What is Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu?

There are a few different ways in which eggplant gotsu is traditionally prepared in Tamilnadu. In this particular recipe, a big purple eggplant is roasted on an open fire to char it and infuse it with a rich smoky flavour. The smoked eggplant is then mashed and cooked in a very flavourful spiced tamarind gravy.

Kathrikkai‘ is Tamil for eggplant aka brinjal, while ‘gotsu‘ or ‘gojju‘ roughly translates into a side dish that is usually served with tiffin items. The term ‘sutta‘ refers to fire-roasting. That’s how the name of this dish came about. Also, do check out the Sutta Kathrikkai Thogayal recipe on my blog – a yummy chutney made using fire-roasted eggplant.

Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu should not be confused with Chidambaram Gotsu, which is also an eggplant-based dish but made in a different manner.

About Meenakshi Ammal, the doyenne of Tamilnadu cooking

I have recreated the recipe by Meenakshi Ammal, the doyenne of Tamilnadu cooking, with a few minor variations.

S. Meenakshi Ammal was nothing short of a hero, a breaker of the proverbial glass ceiling. She was a home-maker who went on to lead an extraordinary life in spite of the curveballs that life threw her way. Married at 19 and widowed at 23, with a little son, she had a tough life shouldering several responsibilities at her in-laws’ place. However, she was an immensely talented cook, and this fact shone through. Guided by her uncle, she went on to write and publish cookbooks to help South Indian brides like herself navigate the kitchen more easily – all this in the 1950s when a woman’s working outside the home was quite unheard of.

Meenakshi Ammal even had to pledge her jewellery to publish her cookbooks, but she persevered. The books became hugely popular, so much so that they began to be considered the Bible of Tamilnadu-style cooking. Newlyweds of that era used to be given a set of these books (initially published in Tamil as Samaithu Paar, later translated into English as Cook & See) to carry to their husband’s place. They continue to be very popular till date, with pride of place in several Tamilian homes, including mine. I own these cookbooks myself (the three volumes of the English translation), and refer to them often. They are definitely treasured possessions!

How to make Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu

Here is how I make it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1. 1 medium-sized purple eggplant, the kind we use for Baingan Bharta

2. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind

3. 2 sprigs of curry leaves

4. 2-3 green chillies or as needed

5. 1 tablespoon sesame oil

6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

7. 2 pinches of asafoetida

8. 2 dry red chillies

9. 2 pinches fenugreek seeds

10. Salt to taste

11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

11. Red chilli powder to taste

12. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

13. 1 teaspoon rice flour

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in boiling water for 15-20 minutes, for it to become soft. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

2. Roast the eggplant on the gas till the skin becomes wrinkly. Keep turning it to ensure that it is roasted evenly on all sides. Remove the roasted eggplant onto a plate and allow it to cool down completely.

3. Meanwhile, chop the green chillies roughly. Keep the curry leaves ready.

4. When the tamarind has cooled down enough to handle, extract all the juice from it. Use water as needed to help with the extraction, but do not use too much. The extract should be thick and not too watery.

5. When the eggplant has fully cooled down, remove the skin and discard. Then mash the flesh roughly, using your hands. Keep ready.

6. Now, we will start making the Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida, dry red chillies, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and chopped green chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds.

7. Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook on medium flame for about 4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

8. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste and the turmeric powder. Mix well. Continue to keep the flame at medium.

9. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well.

10. Mix the rice flour with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl, to make a lump-free slurry. Add this slurry slowly to the pan, stirring constantly.

11. Add the eggplant flesh to the pan too. Mix well. If needed, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water to adjust consistency.

12. Cook everything together on medium flame till the mixture thickens considerably. Switch off gas when it reaches a thick but slightly runny consistency. Your Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu is ready.

Tips & Tricks

1. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan (plant-based) recipe. If you want to make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercial Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.

2. Adjust the amount of tamarind as per personal taste preferences. Make sure the extract is free of seeds, fibres and other impurities.

3. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the gotsu to be. Similarly, adjust the amount of green chillies, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and salt as per personal taste preferences.

4. Make sure you roast the eggplant well and evenly, turning it often so all sides are equally exposed to the fire. If the eggplant is not properly roasted, it will affect the taste of the gotsu.

5. I have used a medium-sized purple eggplant here, the kind we use to make Baingan Bharta. If you are using the small, round eggplants, you might have to use 6-7.

6. Sesame oil works best in this Sutta Kathrikkai Gotsu. However, if you don’t have it, you can use any other variety of oil you prefer.

7. Like I mentioned earlier, I have diverted from the original recipe in a few little ways. If you want to stick to the original recipe, please check the picture from the cookbook above.

8. This is a no-onion no-garlic recipe. If you want to, you can use some onion. If so, saute a medium-sized onion after you do the tempering, before adding in the tamarind extract.

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