Viraat hails from a place called Gadag in north Karnataka that is famous for jowar. Undoubtedly, one of his favourite dishes is jolada roti made out of jowar. His childhood memories are very special because of the cuisine which he got to eat at his ajji’s (grandmother’s) place. A great cook, he loves trying his hand at various things. Having gone through lots of ups and downs, Viraat says that he beats his blues with food. His mother Gurudevi always makes hot jowar roti and badanekayi ennegayi (stuffed brinjal curry) when he comes back after a long shoot. His other favourite dish is biryani of any kind.
Shooting in Chennai at the moment and staying in a hotel, he still manages to get time to persuade the hotel chef to let him try his hand at his favourite dish. According to Viraat, cooking is the most creative method to work out tensions, besides acting. Known as sorghum in English, jowar is grown widely in north Karnataka. The jolada roti is served at most Lingayat functions. Most of the lunches would comprise of jolada roti, badanekayi ennegayi, hesaru kaalu palya (green gram curry) and jhunka (steamed gram flour cubes dusted with sesame and coriander leaves). North Karnataka is also very famous for a particular chutney powder made with flax seeds and sesame. This becomes a protein supplement in the diet.
Today, I am sharing Viraat’s badanekayi ennegayi recipe. This dish can be eaten with jolada roti, an unleavened Indian bread made out of jowar (sorghum). It is coarser than a roti. It can be either soft or hard in texture compared to a khakhra or cracker with respect to hardness.
FOR MASALA PASTE: Peanuts: ¼ cup, Sesame seeds: 2 tsp, Coconut oil: 1 tbsp, Chana dal: 2 tsp, Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp, Jeera: 1 tsp, Fenugreek seeds: 1/4 tsp, Dried red chilli: 10, Curry leaves: ¼ cup, Dry coconut kernels: ½ cup grated, Tamarind: 1 small ball, Jaggery: 1 tbsp, Turmeric: ¼ tsp, Salt: to taste, Water: ½ cup Small brinjal: 10, Groundnut oil: ¼ cup, Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.
Cut the brinjals in X shape without taking off the stalk. In a kadai, add coconut oil and fry all the dry ingredients except curry leaves, jaggery, tamarind and mustard seeds
Saute till golden brown, then cool it and grind in a mixie. Mix salt and turmeric to the masala paste
Stuff each brinjal with masala paste and keep aside
In a large kadai, heat ¼ cup groundnut oil, splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add brinjals and saute till it changes colour
Add tamarind pulp and jaggery with a little water
Add the rest of the masala paste and remaining 1/2 cup water.
Cover and cook for 15 mins. Make sure the flame is on low and there is enough water at all times
Add a little salt in the end Once it is semi-dry and cooked well, serve with jolada roti or white rice
VIRAAT’S KITCHEN TIPS
Use small, purple brinjals
Use dried coconut
kernels for better taste Do not over fry masala as it will taste bitter then
— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes