stuffed brinjals or bharelu shaak
Most people hear the name aubergine, brinjal or eggplant and make a face. That includes my lovely daughter Nami. Try this recipe out and brinjals will not taste the same.With the limited number of vegetables available at present in Mombasa, I constantly have to figure out a way to repeat the vegetables but try and them in different ways.
Both my mum and Nunu made stuffed brinjals or eggplants only when we had guests over for lunch or dinner. However, I make them often as I can especially when I get the small variety. The small ones cook pretty fast and at the same time hold their shape pretty well compared to the slightly long ones we soemtimes get in the market. However, I use both of them, as long as I have stuffed brinjals whenever I have a craving for them.
Eggplants, brinjals or aubergines are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Its a rich source of iron, potassium, manganese and dietary fibres. It is rich in nasunin, an antioxidant which helps to lower bad cholesterol, helps to keep blood vessels healthy and controls blood sugar.
There are so many different ways a stuffing for the brinjals can be made. Some use just a mixture of dry spices, some use coconut only, some use peanuts. The filling I have used, I learnt from my mother in law Nunu. I find it so tasty and its got it all ..coconut, besan, peanuts, sesame seeds and the spices.
The trick for the stuffing to stay in the brinjal and not spill out is that you add a bit more oil and make the filling a bit paste like rather than dry. It also makes it easier to stuff them. Secondly, I don’t cut the brinjals in X as most do as by the time they get cooked the filling or stuffing comes out. I make a slit on the side, and slice a thin bit off from the cut, much like a wedge.This allows me stuff as much stuffing as possible and the stuffing can go deep into the brinjal. What do I do with the thin slices that I’ve cut off. I simply add it along with the stuffed brinjals to cook.
Coming to the gravy, I make two different kinds. Sometimes I do not adding the left over stuffing to the tomato gravy and the resulting curry is reddish in colour. If I have a bit of stuffing left over, then I add it along with the tomato puree and the resulting curry is a thick gravy one. Cook it the way you like. My mum never added tomato puree, it was just stuffed brinjals on their own.
Make what suits your family. Whenever I make stuffed brinjals, I don’t bother to make a dal dish so the curry has to have a bit of gravy. We usually enjoy it with thin rotis.
STUFFED BRINJALS or BHARELU SHAAK
For the stuffing:
¼ cup chickpea flour (besan, chana flour)
¼ cup coarse peanut powder
¼ cup grated fresh coconut
2 tbsp sesame seeds (tal), roasted and ground to a coarse powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
2 tbsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jiru)
½ tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp green chili paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
½ tsp sugar
½ – ¾ tsp salt
¼ cup finely chopped fresh fenugreek (methi)
2 – 3 tbsp oil
2 tsp lemon juice
For the shaak or sabji:
12 small brinjals round or long ones
2 tbsp oil
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
½ tsp cumin seeds (jeeru)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp asafetida (hing)
½ – 1 cup fresh tomato puree
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Preparation of the stuffing:
- Heat oil in a pan over low heat. The it is hot add the flour.
- Stir fry it till it turns light pink in colour.
- Add the coconut and stir fry for a few seconds.
- Add the peanut powder and sesame seed powder.
- Stir fry for a few seconds.
- Add ginger, garlic and green chili paste.
- Mix well.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add chopped fresh fenugreek, dhana jiru red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, sugar and lemon juice. Mix well.
- Keep the stuffing on the side till required.
Preparation of the brinjals:
- Wash and wipe the brinjals with a clean cloth.
- Trim the stalk and remove the leaves. Leave a bit of the stalk.
- Make a slit on one side three quarters of the way starting from the stalk down.
- Cut a very thin slice of the brinjal off where you’ve made the slit. It should like a wedge.
- Stuff the brinjals.
- Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
- Add fenugreek seeds. Then add the mustard and cumin seeds.
- When they begin to sizzle, add the turmeric powder and asafetida.
- Mix well and immediately arrange the stuffed brinjals in the pan with the slit side up.
- Sprinkle salt over them.
- Lower the heat, cover the pan and let the brinjals cook.
- Frequently shake the pan so that the brinjals get turned and don’t burn.
- If you find that the brinjals are not done and are beginning to stick to the pan, add about ¼ cup water. Cover the pan and let the brinjals cook.
- Insert a knife in one and if it goes through easily then the brinjals are done.
- Add the tomato puree on top. Cover and let the mixture cook for 4-5 minutes over low flame.
- If you are adding the remaining stuffing then add it along with the tomato puree.
- Garnish with chopped coriander and serve stuffed brinjals with hot rotis or parathas.
- Save any left over stuffing. Put it in the freezer for further use. Can use it to sprinkle over stir fried brinjal sabji , stir fried ladyfinger sabji or use it to stuff peppers.
- Can stuff potatoes and cook in the same manner. Mix potatoes and brinjals.
- Too lazy to stuff the vegetables then sprinkle the stuffing over cubed and cooked potatoes and brinjals for a different taste.
- Coriander Cumin powder or dhana jiru is a must in any Gujarati kitchen. Its one part of coriander seeds to quarter part cumin seeds. Coriander and cumin seeds are roasted separately, mixed and then ground into a powder.