Sunday, November 2, 2008

Guthi Vankaya-the way my mom makes it...

Stuffed brinjal or Guthi Vankaya, as it is called in Telugu, is one of those ambrosial dishes an egg plant/brinjal will yield itself into amazingly well. For us, when we were much smaller, it was a rare treat, something my brother and I were really fond of— a dish we would have liked at mealtimes everyday, but it was not to be. Succulent well-cooked baby brinjals in their entirety: waiting to be mixed with rice and ghee—oh so fragrant and delicious!

My mom’s version is extremely simple and basic in terms of ingredients, but it calls for some amount of skill, and presence-of-mind, a quality that completely fails me sometimes! Okay, there are two sutras that do the trick:

a) Buy purple baby brinjals, and not the ones that are slightly bigger. It is seasonal, so try finding them in the big vegetable markets or ask your local vegetable seller to source them for you.
b) Forget about using your non-stick kadhai for this one. You need a heavy-duty, thick, fat, wok or a similar shallow-fry pan to cook these. If you don’t have it, it really makes sense to buy one. You’ll be amazed at its versatility in the kitchen. A tip: if you have a thick-bottom pressure pan, try using it without the lid.

Try this out, and serve it with simple sona masuri rice and a nice big spoonful of ghee (that goes right on top of the rice mound and melts along its way downhill). To eat, use your hands and mix the brinjal with the rice, crushing the soft vegetable to mix evenly with the rice and ghee. And the taste…tell me about it!


½ kg baby brinjals (the purple ones)
1 cup gram flour (besan)
2-3 teaspoons chilli powder
Salt to taste
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon asafetida
Oil to cook


Clean the brinjals thoroughly with water, and after this wipe them dry. Slice away the stalk portion, such that the brinjal now has a base and can sit straight in the pan. Cut the brinjal through the length, just till the end, but not fully that the pieces separate. Cut it once more so that the two cuts form a ‘cross’. Or the brinjal now has four parts but all still joined at the base.

Mix gram flour, chilli powder, salt, turmeric and asafetida and sift into even flour. Stuff the brinjals with this and place it in the wok gently, so they all sit pretty, next to each another. Once all brinjals are stuffed, dust the top with the remaining flour mix. Pour a spoonful of oil over each brinjal. And just swish a last spoonful of oil deftly across the pan, like a good luck charm.

Now cook the brinjals on low flame, with a plate gently placed on top of the wok/kadhai.
Check on them occasionally, talk to them as well… Cook until the brinjals are tender and done.

Eat. Enjoy.