Andhra Guthi Vankaya Kobbari Karam- Baby Brinjals stuffed with Spicy Coconut Powder.
You guys are awesome..Still here after I made your eyes run along after this lenghty name..but it doesn’t mean that this dish is so complex to make. Am not going to just say that it is simple..
….Instead show you and make you feel justified that is is actually simple. I will leave it to judge for yourself.Let you tell your verdict at the end.
This is all about a Andhra delicacy in which baby brinjals are stuffed with spicy coconut powder and cooked on low flame with oil and vapour.Andhra Cuisine has a special place for Brinjal and especially these cute little baby brinjals/egg plants(called Guthi Vankaya in telugu). It is almost considered as the king of vegetables. Let them call but to me Potato is the king and queen of all vegetables, that’s another story .For now let us talk everything brinjal today!
Vankaya aka Brinjal has a special place in Andhra Pelli Bojanam/Banthi(the meals served in Andhra marriages) and festival meals.It is considered as the king of vegetables in my part of land.It is a part of my earlierst food memories though I would not eat this vegetable fondly.I remember the days where all of our family members used to sit and plan the menu for many functions we held in our home.Dad would hold a piece of paper and write down the curries and fries that need to be included in the menu.Be it a house warming function or a marriage he would first write Brinjal Fry and ask us about the remaining items.Brinjal or better I call Guthi Vankaya is something that brings joy to every meal for Andhraites just like pickles and has a strong emotional food connection.If you only know to cut egg plant slices and pop them into oven, you would be delighted to know the variations we prepare with this fantastic and much loved Brinjal. Each and every method of brinjal preparation is unique in its own way with varied blend of spices that goes into it.They stand beautiful since the time they are harvested, bought and served as a part of the meal.Vankaya sivangi Pulusu is the one other oldest and traditional method of cooking Brinjal that is unique to Andhra cuisine.You would wonder to hear that there are songs dedicated to Brinjal in telugu movies.
I would be even just flattened with the very sight of these fresh and tender brinjals while picking it from the vegetable shop.The best of the memories is to go and visit them in the Raithu Bazaar(Farmer’s market) back home in my place,India.
3 signs that you bought good tender brinjals
They are not too dark in color.Eggplants should be vibrant/siky and shiny in color but not too darker those gives a impression of black.It indicates that they are stored for a long time.
You don’t see any patches,blemishes or wrinkled on them.These lines indicate that the brinjals are aged and about to lose their life since they are stored for a long time already. The skin should be tight.
When you cut them you see fewer seeds.It indicates that the brinjal is young and tender.Ofcourse this is helpful not while buying before selecting it to cook
These baby brinjals are best for making stuffed varieties where as long brinjals are ideal for making normal curries and stews.
As the name indicates(Vankaya Kobbari Karam aka Brinjals stufefd with spicy coconut powder), the recipe calls for tender baby brinjals that are slit and stuffed with the coconut spice powder.It is fondly called as Kobbari Karam in Telugu which can had as a side dish with Idli or dosa or even with plain rice and ofcourse with a dollop of ghee.It is a handy cury powder kind of spice powder that you can sprinkle on top of any vegetables fries.You can make this ahead in bigger batches and store them for 6-8 months.Mom would pack huge packets of these variety spice powders and tuck into our luggage bags.They are life savers in fact that too when we live in a foriegn land where we are deprived of home cooked food(yeah I meant meals cooked by mom).I make these spice powders instantly instantly when my stock gets over but the taste of those made by my mom and favourite aunt is the best!They have that smell and aroma of real spices and lentils in them that are grown locally.I have a little collection of home made Andhhra Spice Powders for you that we widely use in curries, vegetable fries and also for breakfast items like Dosa/Idli.
Remember to store them in air tight containers to retain the freshness and aroma.When you have these at hand,you can sprinkle over fried vegetables, stews, and vepudu kuralu.(that how we call fried vegetables in telugu)Wash brinjals before attempting to cut them under a flow of water which ensures that any chemicals stringed to it are washed away.Brinnjals get sour and tend to change color when cut exposed to air.Always keep a bowl of salted wtaer ready before attempting to chop it and immerse the cut brinjal in it immediately after chopping them,
For this recipe we are not going to chop them into pieces,instead slit them little open .I said the recipe is simple and showing you the same now You can see how I have slit the brinjal into plus shape in the below picture.Since we are using a dry powder in this version we need a spalsh of tamrind juice to bind the spice powder to the brinjals.But take care not to add too much as it can make the curry tangy.Freshly chopped herbs like coriander are always like an icingn on the cake.The fresh coriander makes any dish flavourful.If you wish not to add, please feel free to skip.The stuffing needs to be done carefully so as to ensure you are not breaking the brinjal into pieces.You only effort lies in this place throughout this preparation.I know I know you are rolling your eye balls as to why one needs to worry about all these as they anyhow go into our hungry stomachs.Remember, the way that these brinjals are stuffed and cooked with spices inside has its unique way of taste.The flesh of tender brinjals stays soft and juicy while the roasted spice powder turns out into a semi-solid coating texture to it.The joy of pulling each piece with your onw fingers while eating it in the meal is an added bonus in this.You would experience each bite making you travel through the heaven of spice lands.No doubt brinjal is a pride of Authentic Andhra cuisine.My country India is diverse in cultures and traditions.The same diversity can be spotted in different cuisines and food habits varying from state to state but is equally respected and adored by each other. The joy of sharing and eating is same anywhere , isn’t it ?
The stuffed brinjals are allowed to setle down for a while to let them get tact into the vegetables.these are carefully cooked in a wide pan with a little dose of cooking oil.The technique is to cook the brinjals to tender with few splashes of water which creates a vapour that enables brinjals to get cooked wothout burning.It is required to keep this dish cooked covered to ensure the vapour is not going out.Anothercare is to carefully handle the brinjals while turning them as they will turn out to be too tender to handle and can be easily broken into pieces.Remember we are making a stuffed brinjal/Guthi Vankaya
- ½ kg Baby Brinjals
- 4 tbsp Oil
- 5-6 tbsp Coconut Spice powder/Kobbari Karam
- 2 tbsp Red chilli powder
- 2-3 tbsp tamarind juice
- ¼ tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp Chopped coriander
- ½ cup water
- Wash the brinjals under runing water and pat dry them using a kitche towel. make sure you don't have any water droplets.
- Make a plus sign with a knife in a way you don't run it through the whole brinjal.We want the brinjal to be in space still but just making a slit to stuff it with spice powder.Place them in salted water immediately else they become sour and dark whiich changes the taste of the dish.
- Take Kobbari Karam/coconut spice powder, salt and red chilli powder into a plate and mix it well. Add 1-2 tbsp of tamarind juice.(this is optional and you could even replace it with water) and make paste like consistency.
- Stuff this carefully into the brinjals usings a spoon or with your fingers.Press the ends firmly to make sure the stuffing don't come out.Rest them for a while to allow the stuffing to set in.
- Heat oil in a wide non-stick pan(yes it works like charm).Carefully drop in the brinjals and cook them for 3 min under high flame.Reduce the flame to low and cook them covered for 5-7 minutes until you see them starting to soften.
- Once you feel the brinjals are turning soft, flip them to other side very carefully.You would see them getting burnt at this point.So add a splash of water and cook it covered.Sprinkle litle salt in between if you feel the water might dilute the added salt.
- Cook them on both sides until the brinjals are cooked.Remember to flip carefully as the shape should be in tact :)
- sprinkle lots of coriander and little garam masala 5 min before switching off the flame.This is purely optional and I din't add.
Make slits carefully without runing the kniefe too much into the head.
Don't pour water at any cost.You just need few splashes now and then to create a vapour that aids the brinjal to get cooked.
Variations can be done using fresh coconut as well.I will blog that soon.
Where can you go wrong?
First things first, you need to pick fresh brinjal for this.Never attempt to make with wrinkled ones.Read it again, FRESH.
Remember to add salt and chilli powder while preparing the stuffing, else once stuffed and cooked fixing it would be almost difficult or uneven.
Make sure you not add more tamrind juice which will make the spices tangy ruling out the taste of spicy brinjal.
While flipping the brinjals never try to handle them with hand at the head portion.when they get cooked they become very tender and come out giving the brinjals a plain look which is not the aim of this dish.We need them to be in place to look beautiful.
And for you my dear food bloggers, handle them carefully while photographig I ended up eating two brinjals and also don’t hold the head while plating them as they are so tender and come out easily..Big deal really