Every individual has their own definition of what a comfort food is and what it is. For me, I have an array of comfort foods. Growing up in a TamBram culture, it can be a simple dal + rice with ghee, pearl onion sambhar with freshly ground spices, or when I crave something spicy - this eggplant 'ennai kozhambu' ( ~ an oily stew, though it doesn't have much oil). For Shankar, he will be content with yogurt + rice + spicy pickle. And with this dish, I am usually able to re-create the exact taste from when my mom makes it, thanks to the same recipe we follow :)
Ingredients: 6 small eggplants - quartered; 3-4 tbsp yellow split peas; 1-2 tbsp black peppercorns; a small can (5oz) of coconut milk; 2 dried red chillies; a tsp tamarind paste; salt to taste; 1/2 tsp cumin; 1/2 tsp coriander; 1 tbsp oil.
- Roast together with a little oil - split peas, chillies, peppercorns, cumin and coriander till the peas turn reddish.
- In the blender, grind together the roasted ingredients with enough water, coconut milk, tamarind paste and salt.
- In a pot, saute the eggplants in the oil, add enough water to cover them and cook for a few minutes till they are tender.
- Add the paste and water as needed. Cook for about 5 minutes or so till the consistency is that of a gravy.
- Adjust seasoning, serve with hot rice + a dash of ghee.
An absolute delish dish on a cold winter day...especially when it feels like 9 degrees F in Wisconsin.