Kattarikai Gothsu or Brinjal Gravy cooked in a spicy tamrind sauce is a most tasty popular accompaniment for Pongal. This humble dish has a history of more than 1000 years as it is associated with the Temple town of Chidambaram the abode of Lord Nataraja . The priests of the temple known as Deekshitars offer this brinjal gothsu with Samba saadham , a spicy rice offering made of pepper and cumin. Hence this dish is also known as Chidambaram Gothsu. Onions are not used when this is offered as Neivediyam to the Gods.
But at home when preparing this lip smacking dish for Pongal, small onions may be added.
Such is the popularity of this dish that almost every function and wedding feast is incomplete without this Gothsu featuring in the menu.
The smoky flavors of the brinjal is unmatched with any gas cooked or oven cooked ones. In the olden days the brinjals were charred on the wood fires and that lent a great smokiness to the dish. However now people have adopted much easier simpler ways to prepare the dish. Some opt to grill them on separate grillers or on the gas flame directly which is more easy . This dish prepared in several ways. One to either char grill the brinjal, peel and then puree in a blender or mash with ladle lightly before processing further, or to chop them into small pieces without roasting on the gas flame and then prepare the dish with the spice powder and tamrind extract.
Each one have their own unique personal preference in preparing this dish. Some do not like to have it pureed, some dont not like to see the chopped brinjal pieces. Brinjal is also not favored as a a great vegetable by many who hesitate to choose this , but some combinations make brinjal ideal for gravy dishes.
Like any other dish gothsu also has several variations and I have brought it as authentic as possible with adding only tomato as extra ingredient , but the spice powder recipe is authentic and this gives the true taste to Gothsu. You can tweak the recipe to your taste. Adding shallots is your option.
4 nos medium sized purple eggplants ( you can also use one big brinjal that is available nowadays , much easier too)
1 small tomato chopped into fine pieces. ( optional )
1 small berry sized tamrind
Salt to taste.
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3. In a deep pan, put some oil and heat well. Roast all the ingredients under spice powder and then remove when a fine aroma of roasted ingredients emanates. Dont forget to add the asafoetida too while roasting.
4. Powder all the roasted and cooled ingredients and keep aside.
5. Peel off the charred skin of the roasted eggplants and mash them lightly to slightly puree them but not too much. Use the back of the ladle to mash them while still warm.
Pinch of asafoetida powder
Pinch of jaggery powdered
Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing.
3 tbsp Coriander seeds
2 tbsp chana dal
6 Long red dry chillis ( Round red chillis are also fine )
Pinch of asafoetida powder
1/2 tsp jeeragam/cumin seeds
1/4 tsp whole black pepper corns
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds/methi seeds
FOR THE GOTHSU SPICE POWDER
( The above ingredients to be roasted and ground to powder, will give around 1/2 cup of powder, use around 2 1/2 tbsp of this, depending on how spicy you like and save the rest in the fridge for one more time ! )
1 Tbsp Sesame oil as it gives a good taste to the gothsu
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Sprigs of curry leaves
1. Wash and wipe dry the eggplants well. Smear some oil all over the eggplants and grill them o the gas flame till charred dark or in a separate grill oven. Be sure to turn the eggplants all over the flame to char evenly. Keep aside when roasted evenly and dark.Let it cool before you peel and extract the pulp.
2 Keep the tamrind soaked in warm water and then extract the pulp .
6. In a heated pan, add some oil, prepare the tempering of mustard seeds, add the chopped tomatoes, let it cook for couple of minutes, add the extracted tamarind water, add the semi pureed roasted brinjal, turmeric powder, pinch of asafoetida powder, salt, and the spice powder around 2 1/2 tbsp for Gothsu. Let it come to a boil till the raw smell of the tamrind leaves and you get a fabulous gothsu aroma.
When the gothsu gravy thickens a bit, you can remove from the gas and add the chopped coriander leaves and sprigs of curry leaves.
Serve hot with Pongal. Idlis, dosas.
Traditionally tomatoes are not used, only thin tamrind extract is used and this thickens , and brinjal is char grilled in flame , the other way is to simply chop the brinjal pieces and also use some chopped tomatoes for extra colour and tangy flavour.