Eggplant (kathirikai/vangi) gothsu is a tangy spicy side dish that pairs well with bland main dishes like pongal, dosai, idli. The traditional way of making this is to smoke the eggplant and cook it in a tamarind broth spiced with chilies, onions, and sambar powder. And this is the recipe I have made today, to serve with vennpongal.
On to the recipe!
1tspsambar powderif you don't have, add a tsp of coriander powder+red chili powder
Soak tamarind in 2 cups of warm water for about 20 mins, and extract the juice, fairly thick consistency preferred
Chip onions, chilies, finely; wash and crush curry leaves
Wash, dry, prick holes with a fork and apply a bit of oil on the eggplant to get it ready for smoking; if you don't have a gas stove, or don't like the smoke smell, chop into small pieces, shallow fry with a bit of salt and set aside on a plate to cool
Using a pair of tongs, smoke the eggplant directly on the stove, turning every minute or so to evenly cook all sides; the eggplant would change color from purple to a brown as it cooks
Remove to a plate/bowl to cool; when cool enough to handle, roughly remove the skin with your hands or with a fork/knife. A few charred spots of skin is okay
Heat oil in a vaanali/kadai, and when hot, add the mustard seeds; when it splutters, add the hing
Add the onions, chilies, and curry leaves, half a tsp of salt for the onions, and saute
Add the sambar/kozhambu powder and cook for a minute or so
Add the tamarind extract, 1 tsp of salt and boil for 6-8 minutes minutes, so the tamarind loses the raw flavor
Add the eggplant, 1/2 tsp of salt for the eggplant, and mash it well in the tamarind broth
Cook everything together to a homogenous mass
Garnish with fresh curry leaves; serve with pongal
Tips for selecting eggplant:
A good eggplant should have a bright green stem, and unbruised, undented skin. This means it's tender, will cook quickly and reduce (as it's a lot of water), and have minimal seeds (less bitterness). And, eggplant should be cooked as soon as possible as it tends to mature in the refrigerator and will get fibrous and bitter if kept too long.
Smoked Or Not:
I love the smoked flavor in eggplant. If you don't, or don't have a gas cooktop to do it, feel free to chop and saute.
Before I had the gas stove, I used to broil the eggplant for roughly 30-45 minutes, turning the eggplant every 15 minutes or so. Obviously, this takes longer, and you don't get the smoke flavor. Smoking the eggplant takes just a few minutes, under ten minutes.
This gothsu is simply amazing in its simplicity and flavors. Enjoy with hot pongal or idli, or rice!