Before you wonder why I dragged a confirmed meat n potatoes name like Iron Chef Michael Symon into a classic beloved South Indian dish, take a look at this creation of his. http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/michael-symon/pan-roasted-lamb-loin-with-sweet-and-sour-relish-and-smoky-or-grilled-eggplant-puree-recipe/index.html
NO.. NOT the Lamb, the grilled eggplant puree.
It was fascinating to watch how the Iron chef transformed a common man's vegetable into something so elegant!, Got me thinking, Isn't that on the same lines of the humble gothsu that any southie grandma whipped up? & if you go to the basics, this is exactly what chef Symon did for his 'high end' lamb dish.
In the days of cooking with firewood, the eggplant would be rubbed with oil & left to grill on the glowing embers after most of the the day's cooking was done. the charred skin would be discarded & the cooked flesh would be combined with tamarind extract,salt, asafetida & pieces of dried arbol chillies, a simple 'tadka' of mustard seeds would finish the simple piquant offering to be eaten with idlis or pongal.
In the traditional Gothsu, the cooked eggplant was imply mashed up by hand & combined with a liquid tamarind extract into which the chillies & asafetida had been mixed. the texture was unmistakably rustic & complemented the smoky flavor very well. This Panfusine version retains the smokiness but the texture is more like that of a dip. It pairs very well with cocktail appetizers like Pita bread or cocktail idlis
Well, here is the Iyer-n-chef (wannabe)'s homage to the gothsu.
for the gothsu you need:
1 Italian eggplant rubbed with oil
1 golf ball sized amount of dried tamarind pods
Salt to taste,
2 dried red arbol chillies
a pinch of asafetida
1tbsb sesame oil + 1 tsp for the 'tadka'
1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
On an open stove top flame grill the eggplant till the flesh is soft & the skin is charred well.
(It makes practical sense to put off cleaning your stove top AFTER you do this, as the liquids from the eggplant drip & can create a mess!)
Set aside to cool and then remove the charred skin. If the eggplant is riddled with a lot of mature seeds then try to remove the seeds as much as possible, else leave the seeds in.
Add 1/4 cup of water to the tamarind & heat in the microwave for ~ 1 minute. Allow to cool & strain out as much pulp as possible. Discard any seeds and fibrous matter from the tamarind. Add broken red chillies, salt & asafetida.
Add the eggplant and tamarind mixture to a food processor bowl & puree for ~ 5 S.
While the processor is running, drizzle ~ 1 tbsp of sesame oil into the eggplant mix till it emulsifies.
Transfer to a serving dish. Heat remaining sesame oil. Add mustard & let it sputter. Finish the gothsu with the mustard 'tadka'
Serve with Venn polenta (the previous recipe) or with Pita bread &r other hors d'oevres of your choice.