Vankaya Vepudu Kura | Brinjal Curry/Fry

Introduction To Brinjal, The Vegetable:

Vankaya aka Brinjal, considered the king of vegetables, is used in cooking several cuisines all over the world. It is, therefore fair, for me to start my curry recipes with this beautiful, glossy, purple, spongy vegetable. Brinjal is known all around the world by different names, like Eggplant and Aubergine, I had learnt of this when we were living in the UK during my early years of marriage. In India, it is baingan in the North, the famous baigun bhaja of Bengal, vangi in Marathi, kattirikai in Tamil, badanekai in Kannada, and vankaya in Telugu, are the few names I am familiar with. Before I start with my little story of the vankaya kura/curry recipe, I would like to share some interesting information about this vegetable that I have read and gathered from various sources.

Image by Jacqueline Macau from Pixabay

Story and Origin of Brinjal:

Botanically classified as a berry, the story is said to have originated in India, where the eggplant was once known as ‘vatingana’, a Sanskrit term meaning ‘collection of winds’.

Image by Usmanzahoor from Pixabay

Interestingly, it is found to have a special place in 13th-century Italian traditional folklore as well. The Italian melanzana was adapted to mela insana, translated to English as ‘mad apple’, ‘rage apple’, or ‘raging apple’, giving rise to a tradition that eggplants cause insanity.

By the 16th – century, the Spanish and Portuguese acquired a taste for eggplant and introduced it to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

However, in North America, Thomas Jefferson is said to have introduced it as a food. In the 1850s, two cookbooks, The American Home Cook Book and Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book, included basic recipes for preparing brinjal. Apparently, both cookbooks recommend salting or soaking brinjal slices in brine (water with salt in it, especially used to preserve food)  to reduce bitterness, and frying them in small quantities of butter/oil to avoid excessive fat absorption. This, as in, soaking the brinjal slices in salt water, I guess, most of us do follow anyways. But, in case any of you don’t, then please do so after reading my post.

Health Benefits vs Risks:

While eggplant isn’t the most nutritious vegetable, it does give a decent supply of potassium and fiber. It has antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which help protect our cells against damage. It is also high in natural plant chemicals called polyphenols, which may help cells do a better job of processing sugar, if you have diabetes.

There is no solid evidence but eggplant consumption may worsen arthritis symptoms and cause inflammation and flaring up of joint pains. Some people are allergic to eggplant and may experience reactions such as a rash, swelling of the face, itching, hives, or a hoarse voice.

However, the health benefits of this nightshade vegetable far outweigh any risks. They contain manganese, copper, vitamins, B1, B3, and B6, folate, magnesium, and tryptophan, to mention just a few. In addition, they are low in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. One cup of cooked eggplants has about 30 calories. 

So, go ahead and enjoy this vegetable once in a while, try it out using my recipe, and share it with your family and friends. Do get back to me with all the reactions.

The Curry – Vankaya Kura:

Vankaya Kura

Vankaya kura is a curry prepared in Andhra (South Indian state) in a variety of ways and each family has its own recipe. Vankaya holds a special place in Andhra households, especially during festive days and wedding feasts. There are a number of varieties of curries made with this vegetable in my own household, the recipes of which I shall be sharing eventually. But, to start with, I am sharing a special vankaya kura recipe that has been passed down from grandmother’s generation. I consider it a treasured one, also because of the story behind it.

My recipe, My Story:

The recipe of vankaya kura/curry that I am sharing here, is how we prepare it in our home and I have taken a special interest in learning and specializing in it. There is a reason. This vankaya kura/curry has a small history to it, which is close to my heart. My mom introduced this curry to me saying that she used to relish it when her friend would get it to college. Her friend’s mom’s recipe was so good that she herself tried to prepare it in later years but could never really replicate it, is what she told me. Every time she prepared this vankaya curry, she would remember her friend, adding, that she never really enjoyed the taste of the curry after college. As fate would have it, this friend of my mom eventually became my mom-in-law! Can you believe it? I got the opportunity to learn the exact recipe from the lady herself (my mom-in-law’s mother).  I practiced and practiced until one fine day my mother-in-law herself said to me that after her mom, she thought that I was the one to have been able to almost replicate it.

Although this curry seems to be simple to make, it needs a bit of practice, to get that dry texture and for it to not get too mushy. Also, soaking the brinjal pieces in salt water is a must in order to make sure they don’t taste bitter. Once you get the right consistency and taste, you will want to make it more often. I just love to mix the curry with hot rice and ghee, enjoying the feel of the warm and soft brinjal and the oily masala sticking to my fingers. Every morsel is sheer pleasure. I am very proud of this recipe. Make it, enjoy it and please do share your experience. So here goes.  

Vankaya Kura

Vankaya Kura – Recipe

Vankaya Kura Ingredients :

  • Brinjals (any shape is fine) – (diced/cubed/cut lengthwise) -250 gms
  • Onions – 1 medium-sized (chopped)
  • Chana daal/Sanaga pappu (split chickpea lentil) – 1tsp
  • Urad daal/ Minapappu (split black gram lentil) -1tsp
  • Mustard seeds/Rai – 1tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1/4tsp
  • Curry leaves- 8-10 leaves
  • Whole Red Chillies – 2-3nos
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Besan (chickpea flour) – 2tbsps
  • Kura podi/Curry powder – 3tbsps
  • Oil – 3tbsps 
  • Salt to taste

How To Make Vankaya Kura:

  • STEP 1– Soak the cut brinjal pieces in salt water for about 10 mins.
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 2 – In a deep pan/kadhai, heat some oil and add tempering of chana daal, urad daal, and mustard seeds and let them splutter. Keep the flame low, to avoid the tempering from burning.
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 3 – Once the mustard seeds start spluttering, add whole red chillies, curry leaves, and asafoetida.
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 4 – Add the brinjal pieces and turmeric powder. Mix along with the tempering. Let the brinjal pieces fry for a minute on high.
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 5 – Simmer the flame, cover the pan, and let the brinjal pieces cook for 2-3 minutes on the low flame.
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 6 – Remove the cover and give it a slight stir. Add in the chopped onions and cook again for another 2-3 minutes, without the cover, so as to remove most of the moisture/water, if any, that is left.
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 7 – Next add in the gram flour/besan and salt to taste, mix, cover the pan, and let it cook for 2 more minutes. Finally, add the kura podi/curry powder, mix it well, and let it fry on low flame without the cover. This is the crucial step where we need to pay attention to the texture. So, if, after adding the powders, the curry feels too dry, we need to add a bit more oil. 
Vankaya Kura
  • STEP 8 – Once the brinjal has softened and is well-fried, turn off the flame. Voila! Vankaya curry is ready to be served with hot steaming rice and ghee.
Vankaya kura

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