Chidambaram Kathrikkai Gothsu

Chidambaram is a small temple town in the South Indian state of Thamizhnadu. Most activity in the town revolves around the temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a very old temple (more than 2,000 years) and huge. Many parts of the temple are in ruins. It is said that Shiva assumed his dancing form (Nataraja) in the Kanaka Sabha (temple hall). The Chidambaram is one of the most popular religious places in Thamizhnadu.
As with most temple towns, the are some dishes unique to the town. So it is with Chidambaram. This dish uses eggplant and transforms the vegetable into a wonderous curry that is so pleasing to the tongue and taste buds that nobody can have just a small portion. And the oil-free version that I present here is even more healthy than the traditional dish, but makes no compromise on taste.

Chidambaram Kathrikkai Gothsu

8 small eggplants (baingan, kathrikkai)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 tsp split black lentils (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 sprig curry leaves
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi) – 2 1/4 tsp portions (one to cook the eggplants and the other for the final dish)
1 tsp red chili powder
1 cup tamarind extract from a lemon sized ball of tamarind (soaked for 15 minutes in warm water and juice extracted)
1 tsp date paste
Unrefined salt to taste
To Roast And Grind
2 tsp split black lentils
2 tsp Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dhana, venthiyam)
6 dried red chilis (adjust according to taste)
1 tsp coriander seeds (sabut dhania, kothamalli varai)
Chop the eggplants and immerse them in water to avoid oxidation
Heat a saucepan with about a cup of water and turmeric powder
Add the eggplants and cover with a lid
Cook for 5 minutes
Switch off the flame and transfer the eggplants to a plate
Mash them well with a fork or potato masher, while still hot
Set aside
Do not discard the water in which the eggplants have been cooked – this water can be used to adjust the consistency of the final dish
Heat a wok and add the split black lentils, Bengal gram and fenugreek seeds (Refer to the section “To Roast And Grind”}
Roast till the lentils become a golden colour
Add the coriander seeds and dried red chilis
Switch off the flame and let it cool
Transfer to a blender and grind to a fine powder
Set aside
Heat a large wok and add the mustard seeds
When they start to splutter, add the split black lentils, asafoetida, curry leaves and garlic cloves
Sauté for a few seconds and add the shallots
When the onions become a light brown colour, add the turmeric powder and red chili powder
Mix well
Add the mashed eggplants and mix again
Add salt
Add the tamarind extract and mix well
Cook for 10 minutes till the raw smell of the tamarind evaporates
Add the ground spice powder and mix well again
Adjust the consistency of the gothsu by adding the water reserved from boiling the eggplants
Mix well and continue to cook
When the gothsu becomes glazy, add the date paste
Mix well and switch off the flame
Transfer to a serving bowl
Serve hot with idli, dosa or even steamed red/brown/millet rice
Or serve it as a tangy dip

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s