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Thick brinjal (eggplant) chutney (Kthirikkai thuvayal)

A thuvayal, also referred to as a thogayal, is a thick chutney made primarily in Tamil Nadu in South India. It has a coarse texture and is thickened, usually by the addition of lentils. Thuvayals are usually spicy and complex with the flavour of the vegetable brought forward.

This is a very complex chutney, one that is absolutely fabulous. The eggplant flavours are front and centre complimented by a complex profile of spices. The chutney is bold, spicy and quite irresistible. The traditional use is alongside a dosa or uttapam, but this chutney can also be used as a crudité dip, or as a spread on sandwiches. This is a thuvayal that you guests will love.

This South Indian cookbook brings to my shelf the unique cuisine of the Chettinad Tamils in South India. This, now popular cuisine, is known to be extremely spicy, complex and distinct. This book is a wonderful collection of recipes that make this cuisine accessible to us at home.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 teaspoons black gram (urad) dal

15 curry leaves

8-10 dried red chillies, or to taste

A generous pinch of asafoetida

1 large eggplant, cut into small dice

15 shallots, peeled and left whole

2 tablespoons ginger paste

2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate

1/2 cup grated fresh coconut

1/2 cup cilantro + more for garnish, minced

1 cup water

Salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Fry for 10 seconds till they begin to pop. Add the gram dal, curry leaves and dried red chillies and fry for 20 seconds. Add the asafoetida and stir in.

Immediately add the eggplants and turn the heat up to medium. Fry for 15 minutes till the eggplant has browned and is very soft.

Add the shallots, ginger and tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes till the tomatoes have broken down and a sauce is formed. Add the tamarind and coconut and cook for 15 minutes till the tamarind is no longer raw.

Cool down completely and add the water and salt.

Grind to a coarse chutney in a small blender. Taste for salt and spice and adjust as per your palate.

Serve at room temperature garnished with cilantro.

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