CHUTTA KATHRIKA GOTSU
Chutta Kathrika Gotsu is an unsung and undercooked dish in the world of South-Indian cuisine. Chutta Kathrika means fire-roasted brinjal/aubergine/eggplant and Gotsu means curry or gravy, typically a tangy one. In this case, the smokiness from the roasted brinjal is the real hero. The flavor kickers are tamarind, jaggery, and green chilies that the gotsu lends to the dish and in a rather muted way. This is a paccha gotsu, which simply means that the tamarind extract is kept raw and not cooked. It’s famously served with Pongal but I can also see it pairing well with dosa, adai or even molagootal.
I’ve not seen anyone else make this dish outside of my family which I’m sure is not the case. I owe this heirloom recipe to my Paati (paternal) who was a wise cook and a chef extraordinaire.
THIS RECIPE SERVES 4
- Brinjal (the large variety) – 1
- Tamarind – 1 large gooseberry sized
- Water – 1 cup
- Jaggery – 1 small piece or a tsp
- Gingely oil – 2 tsps + 1/2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
- Channa Dal – 1/2 tsp
- Methi seeds – 1/4 tsp
- Hing – a pinch
- Curry leaves – a few
- Green chillies – 3 or 2 tsps chopped
- Salt – as needed
- Coriander leaves – 2 tbsps (chopped)
Step 1 – Roasting the Brinjal
- I’ve used a medium-sized brinjal for this recipe. Using a sharp knife, make slits randomly all over the brinjal including the bottom. Massage with 1/2 tsp of oil. Roast on direct flame. Keep rotating until all the sides are roasted. You’ll know that it’s roasted well when the brinjal will start dripping it’s juices. Pick it up with a pair of tongs, place it in a bowl and cover with a lid. Let sit for at least 10 mins. Remove skin. Mash the meat of the brinjal. This yielded 3/4 cup of mash for me. So please measure your yield and adjust the other ingredients proportionately.
Step 2 – Making the Gotsu or gravy
- Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water. Extract the juice. (Be very mindful of how much water you add. This is a Pacha Gotsu which means that the tamarind extract won’t be cooked down. And if it’s too runny, it’ll dilute all the flavors. )
- Add salt and jaggery to the tamarind extract. Mix well.
- Heat the remaining 2 tsps of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Splutter the mustard seeds. Add the urad dal, channa dal and hing. When it gets a shade darker, add the methi seeds, chopped green chillies and curry leaves. When the methi seeds turn red, pour the seasoning over the tamarind extract +salt + jaggery mixture.
- Add the mashed-up brinjal along with its juices. Check for consistency and salt. If it’s too thick, add very little water. If it’s too runny, add a little rice flour mixed in very little water. Mix well.
- Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve with hot pongal!
- I’ve used gingely/sesame seed oil here but you could use any neutral flavored oil of choice.