This simple yet marvellous dish gets its thrilling intensity of flavour from Sambhar powder, a spice blend that is commonly used to make Sambhar (a lentil and vegetable preparation). The powder is readily available in Indian grocery stores around the world. Serve this dish with Chapathi or yoghurt rice.
Serves 4 to 6
¼ teaspoon tamarind chunk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
8 to 10 fresh curry leaves
2 dried red chillies, cut into 2-3 pieces
300g eggplant, stemmed and cut into ½-inch cubes
300g potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
2 teaspoons Sambhar powder
1½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon red chilli powder (optional)
1. Mash the tamarind in ¼ cup/65ml warm water. Gather up the non-dissolvable pulp and discard. Reserve the tamarind juice.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned.
3. Add the turmeric powder, curry leaves and red chillies and stir for a minute. Add the potatoes and ¼ cup/65ml water and cook, covered, on low heat for about 8 minutes.
4. Add the eggplants, reserved tamarind juice, Sambhar powder, and salt. Mix well. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the vegetables are tender and all the water has evaporated. This should be a dry dish. Taste and add red chilli powder and/or extra salt if necessary.
5. Remove from the heat and serve.