Flavours from childhood

Flavours from childhood

Even after many years, the one thing that brings a smile to my face is memories of visiting my grandparents, especially my grandmother. It was a lot of fun going there as she was always prepared with delicious goodies.

It was our favourite destination during vacations and festivals. My grandmother was an expert cook and would make anything we asked for. I believe that she is also the most affectionate person I have ever come across.

Growing up, I spent most of my vacations with her and she was always happy to let me try her latest experiments. Even if I told her that I was full, she would make sure I 
ate another spoonful.

One day, I went to her house after college. I was very hungry and she knew that I hadn’t eaten. She quickly beckoned me to the dining room and served some rice and chutney which I thought looked kind of weird. Nevertheless, I didn’t doubt her
culinary skills. I knew that nothing can taste bad if my grandmother has prepared it.

As I took in a mouthful, I found that it was very tasty, even though I couldn’t make out what it was. When I asked her what it was, she smiled and asked me to guess. I continued eating and finished  two courses, still clueless. It was definitely something my mother had never made before!

Finally, she broke her silence and told me that it was brinjal chutney or ‘Katthirikai Thuvaiyal’, as we call it in Tamil. I was awestruck and couldn't believe that such a lip-smacking dish could be prepared with brinjal, of all vegetables!

I ended up asking her for the recipe and of course, she said it was the simplest recipe to make. She made it sound trivial even though I thought it was a great task. When the weekend arrived, I told my mother that I wanted to cook and she let me into the kitchen half-heartedly, peeping into the kitchen every now and then on the pretext of offering me assistance, but actually to see what havoc I was wreaking.

I finally completed the dish as per my grandmother’s instructions and everyone was surprised at how I could have achieved such perfection even though it was my first time in the kitchen.

The ‘Katthirikai Thuvaiyal’ soon became a favourite dish in my house and also at my husband’s home. I’s a simple dish that you can enjoy with rice and ‘papad’.
Harini Raghavan
(As told to Anila Kurian)   

Katthirikai Thuvaiyal
 

Ingredients
Eggplant, about 500 to 600 gm, 1
Urad dal, 3 tbsp
Red chilli, 6
Hing, 1/4 tsp
Tamarind, the size of a small lemon
Salt to taste
Coconut scraping, 1/2 cup
Oil to fry, 1 tsp

Method
Wash and roast the eggplant on a fire, turning it around to cook all sides properly.  Cool, peel and mash it.
Heat oil in a small ‘kadai’. Add red chillies broken into pieces, ‘urad dal’ and ‘hing’ and keep frying till dal turns slightly brown. Bring it down. 
Add tamarind and salt to it. Add a little water and soak the fried items for about 30 minutes (until dal is soft).
Add coconut scrapings and grind the fried mixture coarsely with a little water into chutney. Don’t grind it very smooth.
Finally, add the mashed eggplant and turn the mixer just once at first speed for few seconds. Ensure it doesn’t become too smooth.
Mix with rice and a spoon of sesame oil and eat with fried ‘papad’.
 

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