Recipe: Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
Do you want to see something cool? Read the names below out loud.

Al badinjan. Badinjan. Vatingana. Baingan. 
Melitzan. Melongene. Melanjan. Melanzana. 
Bazhlakhan. Berenjana. Albergina. Aubergine. 

Note the similarity in the phonetic sounds of the words above? 

In order, that is: 
Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Hindi, 
Greek, Latin, French, Italian, 
Russian, Spanish, Catalan and finally British. 

If in the penultimate step, you convert Catalan's 'albergina' into the Portuguese 'beringala' or the Swahili 'biringanya', the final step is a name more familiar to us in India and our dear friends in Malaysia, Singapore and the West Indies too: Brinjal.

Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal

Yup, the world has been playing Chinese Whispers with the poor brinjal's name for literally centuries! Shows you how connected we have been from as far back as the 5th century.

In Tamil Nadu, the aubergine is known as Kathrikkai. A traditional "Ennai Kathrikkai" is like a mini-burst of flavours in your mouth. The key components involved ideally include brinjals, a nice spicy blend of masala powders and the tangy tamarind bite all in one dish. It is usually served as a curry dish alongside rice or roti but here, we decided to make the blend of spices thicker and use it directly as a stuffing within the eggplant instead.

Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal

Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal


  • Small brinjals - 1/2 kg
  • Onions - 3
  • Green chillies -3
  • Garlic cloves - 12
  • Ginger - one small piece
  • Tomato - 1
  • Curry leaves - few
  • Chilli powder - 3 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 4tsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - a pinch
  • Tamarind - a small lime size
  • Oil - 100ml

Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal


Slit the brinjal from the bottom upwards to a little above the middle in a criss-cross pattern and then soak it in turmeric water.
Cut the tomato & onions into small pieces. Heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a pan, put the fenugreek seeds and when they start to crackle, add onions and saute till light brown in colour. 
Add ginger, garlic, tomato, green chillies & curry leaves and saute for a minute. Now add coriander powder and salt & saute once more. Switch off the stove and add chilli powder and mix well.
When cool, grind this to a fine paste, remove the brinjals from the turmeric water and stuff each brinjal with this masala mix.
Heat the remaining oil in a kadai, add the stuffed brinjals on a low flame & cook. 
When they become soft , add the squeezed tamarind water & cook till oil separates and starts to float. Finally add 1 teaspoon of sugar and toss.

Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal

Ennai kathrikkai / Masala Stuffed Brinjal
Click the image to convert it to its full size and download the recipe

Expect to see the odd food recipe like this at Godyears too - all prepared by my mother - from recipes she has collected as far back as the 1980's - with some unique to Kerala cuisine and some variations of international dishes. 
Since the goal is to share, I will be looking to make all the recipes into easy downloadable single images as well so that you can save them on to your mobile/device and use them offline. Of course, if you do try them out, it would be awesome if you gave me (and her) feedback here on what you thought of the dish.

For the list of all the recipes so far (including seafood, egg dishes, sweets, twists on traditional dishes et al), click here:
For more food posts,  click here.

P.S. We call it an eggplant basically because early 18th century versions were slightly yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs.

P.P.S One last fun fact: The brinjal - considered the king of vegetables by many in India - is NOT actually a vegetable. Botanically, this FRUIT belongs to the BERRY family and is more closely related to another 'berry-type' fruit, the tomato (Waaaaat!?)

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Stuffed brinjal are made pretty frequently at our home for we love it. Ivmake it just like your mom, except that I have never used fenugreek seeds. Will try adding it next time.

  2. I also make the same way except fenugreek. Shall try it next!!!

  3. It sounds heaven and giving me the cravings it cook it right today. As such I love brinjals and any such form tempts me lots

  4. IIhated brinjal once upon a time. Now I am looking for recipes to bring in some variety. Thanks for this easy recipe.

  5. I have eaten began varta and all such stuffs and I love brinjal. But such dish is very new and unique for me :)

  6. I love to eat brinjal but didnt try such dish. Will try this soon. Thanks for sharing

  7. Looks like a delicious recipe. Would try it soon.

  8. Brinjals are one of my fav foods! Will try to make it thsi way!

  9. Ah! Jose loves brinjals - the only veggie we don't see eye to eye on! ;) Saving your Mom's recipe to try it out on him. Thanks for this!

  10. I make brinjal fry which to my astonishment both me and my husband like very much. Growing up we both disliked this vegetable, nay fruit (learned a minute ago :) ) to the core, and of course, we were in different homes then. :) I will try out your recipe, Doc. Thank you for the fun facts. Learned a lot today. :)

  11. Quiet GirlJuly 03, 2018

    one of my favorite dishes!! i love anything that has tamarind in it actually.

  12. richasinghJuly 03, 2018

    Roshan I know why you are still single. Because you can just about have any girl and hence you are waiting (and continuously) rejecting all of the suitors to get the perfect one. Kahan milte hain guys like you?

  13. Hehe... I am pretty big fan of it actually. Easy to prepare more often than not and very versatile: can be fried as a snack or used as a curry. That remind me - if you don't want the thickness depicted in these pics, just adjust the flames and reduce it gradually till you achieve the consistency you want...

  14. Haha.. now that's something surprising. Two converts :) And well, kudos to your cooking then if you can make it in such a way that hater turn into brinjal lovers :D

  15. Oh, then you will love this. You can adjust the powders (chilli et al) for the stuffing based on your own personal spice factor too.

  16. Hahaha.. where did this come from? :) Yes, yes... I am still hunting Mrs right for the exact same reason... in the end, me and Salman Khan will both end up the same way :D

  17. Vinodini IyerJuly 03, 2018

    Woah! I love brinjals! You lucky doc! Aunty, I love your recipes...simple to make and delicious. In Andhra, we make Vankai pulusu, which is brinjals in tamarind gravy. Your recipe reminded of me of it, although yours is a dry version. I have a huge brinjal craving now :)

  18. You know what? These days I find that brinjals have such a thick skin! In the past, they cooked so fast, not any more.
    Thanks for the tip!

  19. haha... she will be glad to see this, I can assure you of that :D
    The original version is actually closer to what you described... we deliberately made it a more drier version.

  20. Thanks Doc for this terrific recipe! When these "egg plant" ( in Australian vocabulary) are not available I use Brussel Sprouts and stuff them in this way.

  21. Ennai Kathrikkai... I am already drooling here... :P
    ​​A Rat's
    ​​ Nibble

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