Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 3:'Exotic' Kara Kuzhambu - Thai Eggplants in a spicy gravy using pressure cooker

Growing up in the Kongu dominated region of TamilNadu coconuts were everywhere, in chutneys, curries, rice, you name it, it was there. So naturally when I started cooked I used it extensively to create gravies along with a bit of onion. The onions and tomato based gravies came when I started noticing what I ate when I went out to restaurants which by extension here usually serve North Indian fare. Then I discovered food blogs and that literally opened up a whole new world. Andhra cuisine especially enthralled me with the generous use of red chilies. I am a sucker for spicy food and no wonder I was in a swoon. The first thing I noticed is the use of peanuts in gravies (Sra did mention that it is popular in the Rayalseema region of Andhra).

We did eat our share of groundnuts or peanuts, boiled, roasted, made into sweet treats, mixed in with puffed rice etc etc. Other than the once in a blue moon groundnut chutney it never was a common ingredient in cooking.

I made the peanut gravy once and we have been hooked ever since. DH likes it, the kids like it and peanuts are a plenty in the pantry so every vegetable I fancy gets paired with peanuts but none more so than eggplants. Peanuts and eggplants are a match made in heaven and I have an unbroken record so far of clean plates to prove it. The trick is to not use too much peanuts, else it becomes blobby and not very appealing. I have played around with ingredients from various peanut based gravies to arrive at once that sits comfortable. The addition of a bit of coconut gives it the perfect gravy texture, not too blobby but creamy.

Thai eggplants, unlike their Indian cousins take a while to cook. Several times I have started cooking on a stove top only to transfer all the contents to a pressure to speed up the cooking process. These days I start and finish the cooking in the pressure cooker.

And that my dear friends is how this exotic gravy ingredient has taken hold in my kitchen.

Thai eggplants in a spicy peanut gravy
1. 8-10 Thai Eggplants (any kind would do) stem removed and slit but still intact
2. 1/4 onion chopped - 2 tbsp
3. seasonings: mustard, cumin and curry leaves
4. 1 cup of tamarind pulp from a small lime sized piece of tamarind

For the paste
1. 1/4 cup of roasted skinned peanut
2. 1/4 onion chopped - 2 tbsp worth
3. 6 red chilies
4. 1 tbsp grated fresh coconut
5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
6. 1 tsp cumin seeds + a few pepper corns
7. 1 tsp dried curry leaves powder or use about 10 fresh curry leaves

In a drop of oil saute the onions followed by the coriander seeds, red chilies and cumin, pepper corns followed by the coconut and curry leaves.

Start by powdering the peanuts first, add the rest of the ingredients and blend to a paste without adding any water.

1. If preferred stuff the egg plants first and set aside.
2. In a pressure cooker add a tsp or so of oil and add the seasonings followed by the onions and saute till they are translucent.
3. Add the brinjals and saute till they start to turn brown on the outside 6-8 minutes.
4.Add the peanut paste and the tamarind water and 1 cup of water along with salt.
5. Let cook for a whistle.

Tastes best with rice but goes with chapatis or parathas as well.


  1. Peanut based gravies are something I tried after seeing foodblogs too. Pressure cooking must make the eggplants very tender & flavorful.

  2. I guess this would be somewhat or much like the gravy used for that Hyderabadi speciality, Baghara Baingan - where too peanuts are used, sesame and copra also. i used to find the combination of biriyani and eggplant curry strange but now I think it's a good match, if biryani needs an accompaniment at all!

  3. I am clawing at my screen trying to get to the plate of steamed rice, eggplant gravy and those crispies.

    This is seriously one of my favorite curries, and the pressure cooker takes the time pressure off!

  4. So much agree with you that peanuts and eggplants are indeed a match made in heaven! I love this curry, haven't made it using pressure cooker though, should try it soon! Looks delicious..

  5. ISG, the eggplants look fabulous... and like Nupur I am staring hard at the chaklis and whatkindofcrispiesarethose??? :):)

    I tried to make a dish like this once, way back, from Indira's blog. With your recipe and the pressure cooker I could have another go.

  6. Thai eggplants are the tastiest of all eggplants in my opinion. Peanuts are the ultimate combo with any eggplants. Looks very deliicous.

  7. the plate looks so appetising with the curry n rice n the crispies

  8. I have had brinjal araituvita kootu,although it doesn't have onions or peanuts.It should taste yummy this way.Got to try it:)

  9. the pressure cooker method saves so much time :).. and peanuts & eggplant are indeed a combo made in heaven.. another famous andhra dish which my mom makes with this combo is - Gutti Vankaya koora :)


  10. peanut butter works magic everywhere in my kitchen too.

  11. Linda, they are vadagams or vadams made with left over rice. Ammayee's of course and the orange color one is store bought tomato vadagam.

  12. I love peanut based curries and always keep some store bought roasted unsalted peanuts for impromptu curries.. Pressure cooking the eggplants is a great idea. I'm going to try this dish soon with the green eggplants I bought this weekend. Thanks for the recipe.

  13. I am drooling by the looks of the plate! What can get better in a cold wintry night ? Indo I bet the family is enjoying great treats nowadays! I only once made a peanut based gravy. Only me and amma are peanut fans but this curry tempts me to make some!

  14. That's exactly true ... too much peanuts does give curries a very blobby texture, not to forget, it can get kind of overpowering! This looks so mouthwatering, especially with those lovely, fried yummies on the side!

  15. I wish to have this for lunch. :) I made similar curry from Shilpa's blog some time back. Turned out nice and goes well with Rice. Pressure cooker is a very good takeaway for me.


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