My Dad describes it as “like butter.”
The recipe is my Aunt Ranee’s, who is my mum’s sister. My mum Ruby and Aunty Ranee are great cooks. Aunt Ranee who lives in Penang has been a darling to validate our cooking and reviving my mom’s recipes.
This is a very special, rare recipe you will not find in restaurants. It’s really home-cooked. Also, the white brinjal is hardly used in cooking and we’ve only been able to find it in Little India. Markets don’t seem to stock it, so it’s really a labour of love to make this dish.
This dish is from my childhood when we used to visit Penang. My mum used to take us as children every Christmas so that we could meet our cousins; mum has two sisters who are still in Penang though my cousins have flown the roost. My aunt used to make this particular dish as a “starter” for the drinkers to have before the main meal. It can be relished as a dip and is excellent with beer and dry mutton curry.
The cooking seems straight forward enough but Chris (my husband) will tell you that it takes precision and timing to get this to perfection, and Chris is the perfectionist. The boiling of the cute egg-shaped white brinjal, the rolling to strip it off its skin, the mashing with the right mix of herbs, spices, tamarind paste and the freshest of coconut milk to get that yummilicious creaminess.
Relish.Sg’s Creamy Brinjal (Aunty Ranee’s recipe)
Preparation 20 minutes. Cooking 20 minutes.
1 kg of white brinjal
half a bag of shallots (about 20 small onions)
two bulbs of garlic
a thumb size of ginger
5 stalks of spring onion
10 green chillis
10 red chillis
2 tablespoons of mustard seeds
a small handful of curry leaves
1 tennis ball size of tamarind paste
1 cup of water (to mix with the tamarind paste)
3 cups of thick coconut milk (first press)
5 tablespoons of melted ghee
- Boil the brinjals until they are cooked.
- Drain the water and cool the brinjal (put them in a bowl of ice!). Remove the skin.
- Put the flesh in a basin and mash it up evenly.
- Slice and mince the onions, garlic, ginger, green and red chillis as well as the onion leaves into tiny bits.
- Add the minced mixture to the mashed brinjal.
- Heat the pan and add ghee.
- Fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves.
- Add the brinjal mixture and fry until it is cooked. Keep the flame on low.
- Add the coconut milk and continue to stir.
- Mash the tamarind paste into water and remove the seeds.
- Drain the juice.
- Add the tamarind juice to the simmering brinjal and stir. Add salt to taste.
Eat with hot rice or iddlys and chicken paratel. Enjoy with Relish Tango Mango Chutney!