Rasavangi is a spicy, tamarind based eggplant dish that is a wonderful change from a regular sambar. It is very common in South Indian households.
Rasavangi is a close cousin of the arachuvitta sambar, but with different spices. It is also very close to pitlai. It is a good example of how a small change in spices can make a dish taste very different. This has a wonderful flavour profile of coriander and coconut. All you need with it is some rice and perhaps a simple potato dish, papadums or a vegetable curry.
This recipe comes from my idol of authentic South Indian TamBram cooking – S. Meenakshi Ammal and her books Cook and See. It is in her first volume under the Aviyal chapther.
Kathirkkai Rasavangi | Brinjal Rasavangi | Eggplant and Toor Dal
350 g of tender eggplants – they must be tender
0.75 cups toor dal (red gram dal)
2 tspn ghee
1 small lime sized piece tamarind
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
4 – 5 curry leaves
salt to taste
2 tspn channa dal (Bengal gram)
2 tspn coriander seed
8 small dried red chillies
4 Tblspn grated coconut – use frozen if you don’t have fresh
1 tspn black or brown mustard seeds
1.5 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
branch of curry leaves (8 – 10 leaves)
1 small Tblspn ghee
Cook the toor dal until mushy.
Soak the tamarind in hot water. Leave to soak for 20 mins or more, breaking the tamarind block up as it soaks.
Roast the channa dal, coriander seeds, 6 of the red chillies and grated coconut. I prefer to dry roast, but you can use a little ghee.
Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind to a powder. Keep aside.
Cut the eggplant into large chunks, or alternatively cut into long, thin pieces. Heat 2 tspns ghee and saute the eggplant in it for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Strain the tamarind, pushing the pulp through the strainer, leaving only the seeds and strings in your strainer. Scrape the pulp from the bottom of the strainer into your tamarind water. Add your tamarind water to the eggplants and add enough additional water to cover. Add salt to taste and the turmeric powder, and bring to a simmer until the eggplant is tender.
Add the cooked toor dal and bring to a rolling boil. Add the spice powder previously prepared and mix well. Add 4 or 5 curry leaves. Remove the pan from the heat.
In another pan, heat 1 Tbspn ghee and add the mustard seeds. Allow them to pop, then add the urad dal and asafoetida powder. As the urad turns golden add the curry leaves (they will splatter), remove from the heat and add to the rasavangi.
recipe notes and alternatives
If you desire, soak 1.5 tsps channa dal and add after the tamarind water.
Ash gourd can be used instead of eggplant. Use 2.5 cups chopped ash gourd, cook it in plain water and add the tamarind water to the cooked gourd.
Large fresh beans can also be used. Remove them from their peel/skin and cook separately. Add to the Rasavangi after the eggplant is cooked.
Dried beans can also be cooked and used with either Eggplant or Ash Gourd Rasavangi.