Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stuffed Baby Brinjal (Gulla Puddi Sagle)

In Konkani cuisine, we make two kinds of dishes with 'Sagle' masala. In my household, Ma makes Okra (Bhendaa) Sagle and Gulla Puddi Sagle. I love the flavor of Sagle masala/ masolu, though the approach and method to Bhendaa Sagle is little different from Gulla Sagle. Sagle masala is made of Urad Dal and Coriander seeds (Urad Kothambiri). Everyone in my family loves this dish, especially my father.

Traditionally, for Brinjal Sagle, a typical variety of Brinjal is used, also known as Udupi Mattu Gulla in Konkani. It is a tiny, oblong, shiny seasonal variety of Brinjal and available only during particular times of the year. Upon cooking, its soft and succulent with tiny little seeds staring at you in the face. I used tiny green hued baby Brinjals for this dish which are easily available in Indian grocery stores in US between Fall and Winter time. The masala is ground to a coarse paste, the Brinjals are rinsed with double gashes added on the stem side. Once cooked, the tender Brinjals soak in the divine smelling coconut paste and taste uber delicious! The dish goes well for tender Brinjals, especially the pale green skinned ones.

~ Gulla Puddi Sagle ~
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10-12 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Baby Brinjal ~ Gulla (stem trimmed and double gashed) - 6

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

For Masala -
Grated Coconut - 3/4 cup
Urad Dal - 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 and 1/2 tbsp
Red Chillies (Byadgi preferred) - 7-10
Jaggery - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

Getting the Brinjal ready - Rinse the Brinjals and trim off the stem. Make double gashes on the stem side of the trimmed Brinjal. Throw them in a bowl of cold water. Leave it aside.
Masala - Roast red chillies, coriander seeds, urad dal on a low flame with few tsp of oil. Once done turn off the flame, add the grated coconut and let the coconut wilt for a while in the hot pan. Add salt, jaggery, turmeric powder and grind this to a coarse paste with very little water. The paste should be stiff, thick and not runny (sukke). Stuff this paste in the gashes added in the Brinjal. Finally, cap each of the Brinjal with the remaining ground paste. Rinse the blender and save the water for cooking Brinjals.
Cooking the stuffed Brinjals - In a deep bottomed pan, heat few spoons of oil and season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Place the stuffed Brinjals side by side with the stem side up, pour the remaining masala by the side of the Brinjals. Add the rinsed water from the blender and bring to a boil, simmer on low flame for 5-8 minutes with the lid on. The Brinjals turn a shade lighter and should be completely cooked. Use a toothpick and run it through the centre core of the Brinjal, if it comes out clean, the cooking is done. Turn off the flame and serve warm as a side dish.

Step-by-Step Pictures:
1. Trim the cap off the stem and add double gashes and immerse in cold water. This enables the gashes to open up and make the masala stuffing process easy.

2. Add the seasoning and pour the rinsed water, arrange the Brinjals side by side and bring to boil and cook on simmer.

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