My father’s sister, Cynthia, was a wonderful cook. She would prepare delicious meals with a variety of dishes in the menu, with a minimum of fuss. She did have a maid, though, to help her with the pre-preparation and grinding, which I don’t have. Therefore, I have reworked the recipe in a way which allows one to make it simply and easily.
I had tasted this brinjal (egg plant or aubergine) masala only once, and though I had taken the recipe from her, I couldn’t n find it at all. Nevertheless, since I have a fascination for recipes and my taste buds have a good memory, I remembered most of the ingredients. This recipe is a slightly modified version of my aunt’s. I substituted vinegar for tamarind as I felt that it vastly improved the taste. I have also introduced coriander powder, fenugreek powder, and gingelly oil to give it a more rounded flavour. So here is Cynthia Athai’s (aunt’s) brinjal masala morphed into the Sweet and Sour Brinjal Masala. It is makes a delightful combination with Kuska Rice and Chicken Curry.
- ½ kg Brinjal, quartered
- 2 big Onions, sliced
- 2 tsp Ginger–Garlic paste
- 1 ½ tsp Chilli powder
- 1 ½ tsp Coriander powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp Mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
- ⅛ tsp Fenugreek powder
- 1 tsp Vinegar
- 2 tsp Sugar
- ⅓ C or more Gingelly Oil (Sesame Oil)
- ½ C water, if needed
- 1 sprig Curry Leaves
- Heat the oil in a wok or kadai. Fry the mustard and fenugreek seeds.
- Add the brinjal pieces and fry on low heat till almost cooked. The brinjal should not become mushy; it should still be firm and retain its shape.
- Now add the onion and the ginger–garlic paste and salt and fry.
- When browned, add the powders and mix.
- If it is too dry, add water to prevent the brinjal from shrivelling.
- Add the sugar and vinegar and keep frying till a glaze appears. Add the curry leaves and mix.
- Remove and serve.
- I use only fresh ginger–garlic paste, not the commercial ones. I make large quantities of the paste, ginger and garlic in equal proportion, and store it in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator. It usually keeps for two weeks.
- If 1 tsp vinegar is not sufficient, another teaspoon could be added to enhance the sweet and sour taste.