Vangibhath ~ Rice with roasted and spiced eggplants
Vangibhath

I am dishing out today one of my Dad's favourite food. A meal of vangibhath and wafers was sure to have him clicking his tongue in satisfaction later. I hope you will like it too.

Rice is a staple in South India. Naturally we do much more with rice than just have it plain. You will be surprised at the variety of spiced rice preparations that restaurants down South offer. It is mind-boggling. Vangibhath is one of the famous rice preparations from the state of Karnataka. Though the dish bears its origins in Maharashtra but with time the Karnataka version has evolved into a unique dish by itself. The taste is quite different from the Maharashtrian vangibhath (vangi meaning eggplants and bhath meaning rice).

Earlier I used to purchase vangibhath powder during my bi-annual visits to Bangalore but the store bought powder loses its flavour soon. Later I started pounding my own mix at home. I follow Vedavalli Venkatachary's recipe in the book "How to Cook?" with minor modifications based on my taste. I recommend the book (published by Lifco) highly to anyone who is interested in South-Indian cooking as it is concise and clear in instructions and I have had success with most of the dishes I tried from it.


Recipe: Vangibhath ~ Rice with spiced eggplant
Based on Vedavalli Venkatachary's recipe in 'How to cook?'
Preparation Time : 30minutes including time to cook rice and prepare spice powder
Serves : 4-5 persons
Recipe Level: Medium
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom

Ingredients:

For the rice:
  1. 1.5 level cups, any aromatic rice (like basmati or ambemore), soaked for 20 minutes
  2. 3 cups water to cook rice
For the spice powder:
  1. 3 Dry red chillies (Sukhi lal mirchi), if you are using byadgi variety. If using spicier variety reduce as per taste.
  2. 2 tsps. Coriander seeds (Dhania)
  3. 1 tsp. Blackgram lentils - husked (Urad dal dhuli)
  4. 1 tsp. Bengalgram lentils (Chana dal)
  5. 1/8 tsp. Asafoetida (Hing)
  6. 1 tsp. sesame oil or sunflower oil
Seasoning:
  1. 1 tsp. Mustard seeds (Rai dana)
  2. 1 sprigs of curry leaves (kadi patte)
  3. 10 cashewnuts halved
  4. 1 tsp. oil
250g Small purple, round,firm brinjals/eggplants/aubergines (Baingan), chopped as shown below
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. Sunflower or Sesame seed oil (I like to use the latter)
Method to prepare:

Preparing the rice:

Rice for vangibhath
Rice for vangibhath
  • Pick and rinse rice, soaking it in just enough water for at least 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile heat the water in a pressure cooker. When boiling, add the drained rice and a tsp. of oil. Stir and put on the lid and whistle. Cook for 4 minutes on high. Reduce and cook for five minutes on reduced heat before putting off the gas. Set aside to allow the pressure go down naturally. After about 15 minutes open the lid and carefully spread the rice on a wide plate with a fork so as to not break the grains. Set aside to completely cool.
  • Alternatively, you can cook it uncovered in an open vessel till just done. The grains should be cooked through but firm and separate.
Preparing the spices
  • Heat a teaspoon of oil in a wide wok. Roast all the spices separately, except asafoetida, till aromatic and till the colour of grams and spices changes to reddish brown. Remove and stir well adding the asafoetida. The curry leaves should be roasted enough to remove excess moisture by wilting but the colour should remain green. (See picture below)
Spices for brinjal rice (Vangibhath)
Roasted spices for Vangibhath
  • Cool and pound into a fine (not superfine) powder in a coffee grinder and set aside. See picture below;

IMG_58462
Vangibhath podi
Mixing:
  • Cut the brinjal vertically. Lay it face down and cut lengthwise into three or four equal pieces. Hold them together and slice horizontally into thin wedges, as shown.
Eggplant wedges
Preparing the vegetable
  • Keep in salted water till needed. I like to keep it in a thin tamarind extract to retain the colour and prevent oxidation. Retain a tsp. of the water and discard rest or use up for some other dish.
  • Heat the rest of the oil and crackle mustard seeds. Next add split cashews and fry till golden. Add curry leaves and let wilt. Drain and add sliced wedges of brinjal and fry till the vegetable is firm and just cooked. This should take about 3 minutes. I always add 1/2 a tsp. of salt to quicken the process. It is optional but adding only a tsp. of thin tamarind water (the one used for soaking the brinjal slices) towards the end adds a tang. Roast till dry.
  • Add the spice powder and mix well.
  • Remove from heat and add the cooled rice.
  • Mix well till the spices cut uniformly into the rice and serve with wafers or pappadams.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Every cooker behaves differently. Time it the same as you will for a pulav or biryani. The rice should be just cooked and the grains separate.
  • This tastes best served at room temperature.
  • Add the spice powder a tbsp. at a time and reserve some of the powder. Add if needed. This measure serves perfect but spice levels vary from person to person.
  • Same with oil.
  • You can add other vegetables as well but then it would not be 'vangibhath' though it tastes good.
  • I always serve pappadams or wafers.
  • The recipe looks elaborate because I have broken it down but it is extremely easy. You could prepare the spice powder in advance. It can be frozen and stays fresh for about a month.
  • The tamarind water is optional. I like it.


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9 comments

  1. srividhya Ravikumar // 28 June 2010 at 18:54  

    looks awesome... my all time favourite.. thanks for the recipe..

  2. Madhuri // 28 June 2010 at 20:15  

    Awesome Photograph. Vangi bhaat looks delicious

  3. Nithya // 28 June 2010 at 23:20  

    Fantastic recipe and brilliant pics. Love it all :)

  4. Murasaki Shikibu // 29 June 2010 at 00:05  

    This sounds delicious. I'd love to try making it but it will have to wait until I can make my next trip down to my Indian grocer. I have most of the spices but will need to pick-up a few missing things!

  5. Rachana // 29 June 2010 at 01:47  

    Such beautiful pics!!!! Made the Vangibhath even more tempting :-)

  6. Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal // 29 June 2010 at 02:07  

    Wow, what a tempting and lovely pic.

  7. Cooking Blog Indexer // 29 June 2010 at 02:32  

    That's a new recipe..thanks for sharing

  8. jayasree // 29 June 2010 at 13:44  

    Stunning pics..

  9. Apu // 30 June 2010 at 23:46  

    Looks delicious!!