I am repeatedly saying that I love potatoes, and India has some of the best potato dishes in the world. I should have also mentioned that the same is true about eggplants. This particular eggplant dish is wonderful! Simply flavoured, it is also very quick and easy to make.
Kootu loosely means a thick vegetable dal in Tamil, and Asadu loosely translates to silly or someone indulging in bad-behaviour, or simple. This is a simple kootu, one that is only made with eggplants. It does not have many spices, just tamarind, turmeric, chillies and a tadka. You can say that it is behaving badly in the spice department due to its simplicity.
The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
Brinjal Asadu | Simple Eggplant Kootu
0.5 cup toor dal, cooked until soft and disintegrating
350g tender eggplants – use the long, thinner ones
3 tspn ghee
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
5 – 6 green chillies
lump of tamarind, soaked in 1 cup water
10 curry leaves
sea salt to taste
2 tspn ghee
1 tspn brown mustard seeds
1.5 tspn black gram dal (split urad dal)
2 Indian dried red chillies
Cut the eggplants lengthwise into long, thin wedges. Heat 2 tspn ghee in a kadhai or other pan until hot, then add the eggplants and green chillies and fry the eggplants on both sides until nicely coloured. Add additional ghee (the remaining tspn) if necessary.
Add the tamarind water, straining the seeds and fibres, and pushing them through the strainer to extract as much pulp as possible. Add the turmeric powder and sea salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until the eggplants are tender.
Add the cooked dal – it must be disintegrating and can be given a few pulses with an immersion blender if needed. Mix well and let it simmer.
If the dish is rather thin, it can be thickened with 0.5 tspn rice flour or chickpea flour, mixed with a tiny amount of water to a smooth paste. Add to the simmering dal while stirring, and continue to stir until the dal thickens slightly.
Add the asafoetida and allow to simmer for a few more seconds. Remove from the heat, and add the curry leaves.
Make a tadka by heating the ghee in a tadka pan or other small pan, and popping the mustard seeds. As the popping slows down add the urad dal and the red dried chillies. When the urad dal turns golden, pour the oil and spices over the Kootu. Serve and enjoy.