It’s all in the Name – Kathrikkai (Brinjal) Rasavangi

I love brinjals a.k.a eggplant/aubergine and like them in every form – thogayal – a form of chutney (துவையல், சட்னி), dry curries, sambhar(சாம்பார்), vetha kuzhambu (வத்த குழம்பு), you get my drift. Unfortunately Guru does not share my love for this purple delight so I try to make them in small quantities or when he is not around. More often than not, it becomes difficult to make multiple dishes with the pain and whatnot so I try to make one-pot lunches/dinners or main dishes that can be supplemented with simple sides.


I was doing my veggie shopping and just HAD to pick up this gorgeous aubergine from Namdhari’s and was vacillating about what to make out of it, maybe eggplant parmigiana or roaster/charred eggplant thogayal (சுட்ட கத்திரிக்காய் துவையல் )or plain-old curry……then it hit me, Kathrikkai or Eggplant Rasavangi (கத்திரிக்காய் ரசவாங்கி), a traditional tam-brahm dish usually served in weddings or made during festivals/special occasions. Cooked with slow-roasted and ground spices with coconut, eggplant, channa and toor dal in a tamarind base, its one of those main dishes that does not need an elaborate side.

Similar to Arachuvitta Sambhar or even Pitlai but not quite, Rasavangi is a very tasty dish. I always got confused between the three cos the ingredients are the same. I think (and I might be wrong) it is the vegetable that gives it the distinct taste and the name. Pitlai is usually Bittergourd Pitlai (பாகற்காய் பிட்ளை) and Rasavangi is usually Eggplant Rasavangi (கத்திரிக்காய் ரசவாங்கி) and I realized in my physical therapy session that Vangi is Brinjal (think vangi baath) 🙂 so I guess It is actually ALL in the Name.

As much I love trying out new recipes, nothing brings me more joy than cooking traditional and authentic Tirunelveli style dishes that my paati and athai used to make. Maybe it is the scent of slow-roasting spices wafting through the air, maybe it reminds you of your childhood and all the wonderful memories with your loved ones.

Here is my recipe:

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves 3-4


  • Tamarind (a big lemon size), soak in water and strain the pulp (Use the leftover tamarind while grinding the podi)IMG_0242
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • Pinch of Hing/asafoetida (I usually take a bigger pinch as I think it ups the taste)
  • 1 cup of brinjal (eggplant) – cubed
  • 1/4 cup of garbanzo beans – soaked and pressure cooked with a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup toor (red gram dhal) pressure cooked
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped curry leaves for garnish
  • Salt to tasteRaw ingredients
  • For the podi
    • 1 tsp mustard seeds
    • 2-3 tsp fenugreek seeds
    • 3-4 tbsp coriander/dhaniya seeds
    • 1-2 tbsp channa dhal/kadala paruppu
    • 6-7 dried red chillies (less if you can’t take the heat)
    • A cup of grated coconut ( I also use kopparai, i.e. dried coconut powder)


  1. Roast the podi ingredients and some hing in 1-2 tsp of oil until they turn golden brown.IMG_0238
  2. Grind them along with the leftover tamarind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.IMG_0245
  3. Heat 1.5 tsp of cooking oil in a kadai or pot. Add mustard seeds, 1 tsp fenugreek, curry leaves and hing. Wait for them to sputter. IMG_0240
  4. Add the brinjal and sauté for a minute.IMG_0243
  5. Add the tamarind water, turmeric powder and salt.Cook until the brinjal is soft, add the cooked channa and let the liquid come to a boil.IMG_0244
  6. Add the wet mixture and cook until the pacha vasanai (பச்சை வாசனை = raw smell) goes away completely.IMG_0247
  7. Eggplant/Kathrikkai Rasavangi (கத்திரிக்காய் ரசவாங்கி)is ready.


Serving Suggestions:

Best served with hot ghee rice and fried appalam. Can also be served with mini-idlis (small rice pancakes).


Allez Cuisine!

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet! ~ Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1600


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