Eggplant Rasavangi

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
This traditional South Indian eggplant dish is sure to become a favorite on your tables if eggplant is as treasured vegetable for you as it is in many kitchens. Or even if you didn't think it was, once you try this dish, you'll be amazed at not only how easy eggplant is to prepare, but also by the unique layering of flavours made fresher still by the addition of a freshly made paste featuring coriander seeds, chilies, and coconut.

Eggplant Rasavangi
Somewhere between a sambar … a vegetable-based dish commonly featuring tamarind and dal and signature sambar powders … and a kootu … a somewhat drier variation of sambar … the coconut and tamarind gravy for this dish makes it a perfect pairing with rice, dosa, and your choice of a legume main, though this vegetable side is filling enough with very little else, though I would suggest perhaps an appetizer to go along with the dish, time permitting, for an extra special lunch or lighter dinner.
Eggplant Curry
Eggplant RasavangiEggplant Rasavangi
Recipe by
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on May 3, 2023

Warming and fragrant south Indian eggplant and toor dal curry with coconut, chilies, and cilantro

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes + 1 hour cooking time for the dal

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/4 cup tamarind pulp
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup dried toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 large eggplant, quartered and sliced lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sambar powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown or coconut sugar or jaggery
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, trimmed and minced (for garnish)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive or sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 to 4 whole dried red chilies, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons shredded dried coconut
  • water as needed
  • 1/2 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seed
  • 2 whole dried red chilies, broken into pieces
  • handful of dried curry leaves
  • In a small bowl, soak the tamarind pulp in the hot water for 30 to 60 minutes. Position a strainer over another medium bowl and pour the tamarind mixture into the strainer, squeezing as much water from the pulp as possible. Discard the pulp and reserve the tamarind liquid.

  • In a strainer, wash the toor dal thoroughly under cold water. Tranfer to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the dal is soft, about 1 hour. Remove from the heat, without draining, and set aside.

  • While the dal is cooking, make the paste. In a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium-heat. When hot, fry the coriander seeds, chilies, cumin seeds, and asafetida for about 3 minutes, until the seeds darken a few shades. Stir in the coconut, stir for another minute, and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a small food processor or blender, add a few tablespoons of water, and process until you have a thick well-blended paste. Add more water as needed. Set aside.

  • In a large wok or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the ghee or oil for the tempering over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dried chilies, and curry leaves. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mustard seeds begin to splutter and pop, then add the fresh chilies, tomato, and eggplant. Stir in the turmeric, sambar powder, sugar or jaggery, reserved tamarind liquid, and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the cooked dal and paste until well-combined and simmer for another few minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped cilantro and additional salt if desired. Serve hot with rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Eggplant Rasavangi

Other South Indian recipes to try from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Tamarind Sambar
Spicy South Indian Tamarind Vegetable Soup
Green Bean Poriyal
Stuffed Eggplant Poriyal

On the top of the reading stack: The Harvest of Sorrow by Robert Conquest
Audio accompaniment: Irradiance by Joachim Spieth


Anonymous said...

Wow does this look great! If I wanted to use tamarind paste (the somewhat liquidy brown kind) how much would you suggest?

Lisa Turner said...

It is a stunning dish indeed, layered with fine flavours. I would use 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste if not using the pulp. Adjust to suit your preferences, of course. Enjoy!