Mothers will always be mothers and their children kids to them always, no matter what the age. My parents live in the same city and when they visit, my mother insists that she get the food for me. I sometimes put my foot down very firmly and sometimes I get very tempted by the thought of eating her food at my home, some on the same day and some to be eaten later. Not to mention the unexpected break I get from the routine cooking. My brother's work place being close to my home, I get to eat her food quite often, packed and sent to me very thoughtfully, along with accompaniments which she thinks I will relish. Whenever my brother declares that the food is more than usually tasty, he makes sure I get to eat some of it. My father promptly sets about searching a suitable container for the dish not heeding my mother's feeble protests that the quantity may not be decent enough to be sent. The fan is turned on full speed, the hot food cooled and packed hurriedly while my brother gets ready to leave for work. So many a times, I unexpectedly get to eat chutney or a rice dish etc. I hugely relish the food, the stuff I have cooked conveniently pushed into the fridge.
Predictably, when she is here, my mother wants to cook for me for the day or make something that can be stored away, food being the universal expression of love. When she visited us recently, she was as usual wanting to cook something and I asked her to make some Brinjal Sesame Chutney which is one of the many many of her lip-smacking signature dishes. Brinjal doesn't make to the list of my son's favorite veggies, but this is one brinjal dish he always asks my mother to send. I do make this myself at times, but somehow seem to miss that 'something' which makes the chutney extraordinarily good. This chutney was made by my mother and of course I made a note of the recipe so that I can recreate the same taste.
There are of course more variations of this chutney, this is one very delicious version with a predominant taste of black sesame seeds.
Here is what we need:
Fresh, tender brinjal : 500 grams (I have used the long green variety)
Black sesame seeds - 1/4 cup
Fresh coriander leaves, washed and chopped - 1/4 cup loosely packed
Green chillies, chopped - 8-10 (this makes a spicy chutney, alter to suit your taste)
3/4 tablespoon thick tamarind pulp
1 tablespoon crushed jaggery (make it 1/2 tablespoon for a slightly tart and spicy chutney)
1/4 teaspoon roasted methi powder
A generous dash of good quality hing
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons oil
Salt to taste
For the tempering:
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
A few curry leaves
A dash of hing
Procedure: Wash and cut the brinjal into small pieces. In a heavy pan, dry roast the sesame seeds over low heat till you get a good aroma. If you crush a seed in between your fingers, it should get crushed and smell wonderful. Transfer the sesame seeds to a plate and allow to cool completely. In the same pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil. Add the green chillies, saute on low heat till they start blistering slightly. Add the coriander leaves, saute for a minute. Add the turmeric, hing and methi powder. Saute for a few seconds and turn off the heat. Transfer the entire contents of the pan to a plate, cool.
Heat the rest of the oil in the same pan, add the brinjal pieces. Add enough water, cover and cook till the brinjal becomes very soft and almost mushy. Evaporate any excess liquid by turning up the heat, stirring all the while. Take off the heat and cool completely. This very important to get a good texture and taste. If you mash or grind the brinjal when it is hot, it will not taste as good. In the small jar of your food processor, grind the sesame seeds to a fine powder. Add the sauteed green chillies, coriander, jaggery and tamarind pulp and salt.Grind to a smooth paste.
Take the cooked brinjal in a bowl, squeeze with our hands or with a masher. Add the ground paste and mix well again. There will be some skin of the brinjals here and there. This should become a thick chutney kind of consistency without becoming too smooth. The idea is a slightly coarse chutney. If you want a smooth chutney, cook the brinjals till soft but not too soft. Cool and grind along with the green chilli mixture. But you must take care to grind just enough or the chutney will become a sticky paste.
Heat one teaspoon oil. Add the mustard seeds. When it sputters, add the urad dal, saute till it turns a golden color. Add the curry leaves, hing, saute for a few seconds. Pour this over the chutney and mix well.
Serve with chapatis or rice.
Variations: You could make a similar chutney with raw green tomatoes, ladies finger, ridge gourd etc. Some amount of fresh coconut is usually added here to get some texture and the proportions of the ingredients would vary slightly. More of this in my later posts.