ENNEGAYI PALYA (Stuffed Eggplant / Aubergines)
Today's south indian speciality is that of ENNEGAYI PALYA. A ‘palya’ refers to a dish that is stir-fried in whole spices, simmered with just a little water and finished with shavings of coconut. As the consistency of the dish is much thicker, it is usually served with the local handmade roti rather than with rice (which is a staple in the south).
This dish also goes by the name thumbida badanekayi (meaning stuffed eggplant) and is well loved in Karnataka and has several variations in the cities of Belgaum, Bangaluru and Mysore. This version hails from North Karnataka. The cuisine of this region is simply delicious. Like Goa and Kerala, it is heavily dependent on seasonal vegetables and coconuts, which grow plentifully in backyards.
A special variety of small eggplants are stuffed with roasted coconut, peanuts, sesame and some spices. The spice and heat is then balanced with jaggery and tamarind resulting in a dish boasting complexity of flavours. It is pretty impressive considering that the base is simply eggplant. If you cannot find these small eggplants swipe left for an image where you will see how we have stuffed a more common type of eggplant.
- Cut 8 small eggplants as you can see in the image, then soak in salted water.
- Soak 15g tamarind in ¼ cup water.
- On a tava or frying pan, roast each of the following ingredients separately till golden brown: ¼ cup desiccated coconut, 2 tbsp sesame seeds, 2 tbsp peanuts.
- Then in the same pan and 1 tsp of oil, add the following and stir-fry on medium heat: 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds for a minute.
- Now add in ½ tsp Fennel seeds, 3 Green Cardamom, 2 Cloves and 1” piece cinnamon bark. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
- Cool then grind the above with 2 cloves garlic.
- Empty the ground ingredients into a bowl and mix together with: ¼ tsp Turmeric, ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp chilli powder, 15g jaggery, 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and tamarind water.
- Stuff into the aubergines and set aside.
- Heat a pan then add 4 tbsp oil and ½ tsp mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds start sizzling add 2 dried chillies, 8 curry leaves and ½ tsp asafoetida.
- Stir-fry for a few seconds then place the stuffed eggplants in the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn the eggplants on the other side. Let the other side fry for another 3 minutes.
- Now add any leftover stuffing and ½ cup water.
- Cover and simmer till the aubergines are tender.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Image: Small variety of eggplant
Image: More readily available eggplant which can be scored
Image: Small eggplant with stuffing
Image: The final dish served on a bed of raw shredded veggies for crunch