Eggplant – the vegetable that goes by several names, Aubergine, Brinjal, and Baigan to name a few, is not your definite crowd-pleaser. While there are a lot of people who love this humble, unassuming vegetable, there is also a significant group who have their reservations about it.
I was one of those people sitting on the fence, never fully believing in the culinary capabilities of this vegetable. But, that was before a friend of mine invited me to try his mom’s Vangi Bath (Eggplant Rice) for lunch. That lunch changed my perspective, and I became a big fan of Vangi Bath, as well as the hero ingredient, Eggplant (Aubergine/Brinjal).
Vangi Bath (Eggplant Rice/Aubergine Rice), for the uninitiated, is a popular rice-based delicacy from the Karnataka cuisine, where small pieces of aubergine is cooked with select spices (vangi bath masala), and mixed with rice making it a meal in itself.
This delicacy now features in my favourite one-pot meals, or more appropriately in my favourite one-pan meals.
When I thought of cooking this flavoured rice myself, I knew that none of the recipes I can find online will match up to the original, great taste that converted me to a vangi bath lover. After exchanging many emails and Whatsapp messages with my friend, who lives in the US now, I drafted a recipe. A couple of attempts later, and with some tweaks that I managed myself, I present you the “take-it-easy” version of vangi bath!
I hope the creative freedom that I took, which altered the colour of the dish from a purist’s perspective, have still done justice to the recipe’s original kick-ass flavours and taste! In a true “take-it-easy” way, I have made the spice mix from scratch, but without making it too complicated.
You can use any good shop-bought, ready-to-use vangi bath powder mix, but where is the joy in cooking then!
Vangi Bath (Eggplant / Aubergine / Brinjal Rice)Yum
Vangi Bath (Eggplant / Aubergine / Baigan Rice), is a popular rice-based delicacy from the Karnataka cuisine, where small pieces of aubergine is cooked with select spices (vangi bath masala), and mixed with rice making it a meal in itself.
Prep the ingredients - thinly slice the onions, and slit the green chilli lengthwise. Cook and keep the rice ready. I used Basmati rice, but any white rice will do.
We have two set of spices - one for the vangi bath mix, and the second one for frying in oil.
Heat a pan, and dry fry the vangi bath mix ingredients. I usually add dry chillies after the other ingredients turn golden brown. Dry chillies might burn if you add them in the beginning.
Set aside to cool. Blitz in a mixer to fine powder. This is our vangi bath mix.
Cut the eggplants (brinjal) to small pieces. Only the green variants of eggplant are used in the traditional recipes. I, however, used both green and purple varieties to get a good balance of colours!
Heat some oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds, followed by bay leaf, cumin seeds, and cardamom.
Add onions, curry leaves, and green chillies. You can add some grated dry coconut (copra) at this stage (Optional).
Once the onions are tender, add the eggplant pieces.
Add turmeric, salt, and mix well.
Cover and cook on a low flame till the brinjal pieces are tender.
Add the ground Vangi bath mix. Mix well, and cook for a few minutes (without closing the lid) stirring occasionally.
Add 2 tablespoons water so that the rice (when we add it) will be moist enough.
Switch off the flame. Add 3 cups of boiled rice. Mix well so that masala gets evenly distributed, and the rice gets fully coated. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Adding olive oil is optional, but it enhances the flavours.
Vangi bath has a mild tanginess from the lime juice. Ideally (as seen in traditional recipes) you should squeeze in some lime juice to the rice. But I kept lime wedges separate so that it can be squeezed fresh just before eating. Garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaves). Enjoy with some cucumber raita (or any raita/cold yogurt).