This dish needs no introduction!!! There isn't one Kannadiga that is unaware of "Badanekai Yennegai", I'm sure! For the ones who are not familiar with it - Yennegai is a signature dish of North Karnataka . Eggplants/Brinjal are stuffed with ground masalas and shallow fried in oil, until done. Pronounced and spelled in different ways (Ennegai/Enngai/Yengai/Yenngai), this dish has multiple versions of the recipe too!! I got this version of the recipe from a friend of mine, Sangeeta. She is a wonderful cook and this recipe of hers is always a winner!!
This recipe takes me down the memory lane to the time I was newly married.... Couple of weeks after our wedding, Naveen and I landed here in the US (his project was in North Carolina, back then) to a very warm welcome from a wonderful set of friends. While some of them were at the airport to pick us up, the others had got an apartment ready for us!! For the next 15 days, we were flooded with dinner and luncheon invites from all the families out there.The ladies out there were all wonderful cooks.... One was better than the other!!! And those were the times when I could barely make my own cup of tea :D.... Needless to say, I was awed by the way they cooked so effortlessly for 8-10 people each time..... single handed, that too!! My friend Sangeeta was one among them and when she had us over for dinner, Badanekayi Yenngai was one of the dishes she had made for us. It was sooooo good, that I haven't stopped talking about it ever since!! I collected the recipe from her instantly, but never got myself to try it until now :( .... I finally made it yesterday and it was awesome! It tasted so different and fresh!!! Jolada rotti and Yenngai or akki rotti and yenngai are the most famous combos in Karnataka. But this dish can also be had with rotis or even some hot steamed rice!!
4-6 Small, round, purple eggplants
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
A generous pinch of hing
1/2 of a medium sized Onion, chopped finely
Salt as per taste
For the Masala:
1/2 to 3/4 cup Grated coconut, fresh/frozen
2-2.5 tsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Jeera
3-4 Cloves (optional)
1" Cinnamon stick (optional)
4-5 Dry Red Chilies, low spiced
2 tsp Ellu/Sesame seeds/Til, both black & white will do
1 tbsp Peanuts
1/4 tsp Tamarind paste
1/2 tsp Powdered Jaggery/Sugar
1/2 of a medium sized Onion, chopped coarsely
- Dry roast the coriander seeds, jeera, red chilies, cloves, cinnamon, til and peanuts until the peanuts start popping a little; Make sure not to burn any of the spices.
- Grind the roasted spices with coconut, onion, tamarind, jaggery and salt; Add just enough water to make it a coarse paste; Keep aside.
- Make two slits on the eggplants, lengthwise- Such that the slits form a "+" sign on each eggplant; Be careful while making the slits, and make sure the eggplant is in 1 piece and not quartered while slitting them; Retain the stalk of the eggplant.
- Stuff the eggplants with the ground masala and keep aside; Save the remaining masala for making the gravy.
- Heat oil in a pan; Temper with mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves.
- Add finely chopped onions and saute for a minute.
- Slowly drop the stuffed eggplants one by one into the pan; Cook covered on medium heat for 4-5 minutes; Flip the eggplants once in a while, so that they are cooked on all sides;
- Add some water to the saved masala paste and pour into the pan over the eggplants; Adjust ingredients according to taste
- Saute regularly and continue to cook covered, until the eggplants are done and the gravy reaches the desired consistency.
- Remove from stove and serve hot with rice, rotis, dosas etc.
Prep Time: About 45 mins;
Serves: About 2-3 people;