Food for Friendship: Rasavangi (And A Scaredy-Cat Dog)


Uma, that uber-sweet and talented blogger from Teluguruchi, sent me a secret ingredient for the Arusuvai friendship chain ages ago. But swamped as I was with my trip to India and a crazy workload after I returned, I didn’t have a chance to make and post a recipe worthy of it until now.

By now most of you know about the Arusuvai chain and have participated in it, but for anyone that doesn’t know, this is a very special idea from the ladies over at the Yum Blog, Bharathy of Spicy Chilly and Bhags of Crazy Curry. Arusuvai, in Tamil, means the six tastes. In this chain, a blogger sends on a secret ingredient to another, and they cook with it, post about it, and send on another secret ingredient to yet another blogger, and so on. It is indeed a wonderful way to make and maintain friendships in our strange world where we usually only know each other by our urls and recipes.

Uma’s ingredient came with lots of goodies including a plush poodle for a dog-lover, a lovely bookmark, lentils, and a card. Thanks, dear Uma, for your thoughtful gifts.


Now after all these years of cooking Tamil food, you’d think I’d have guessed the secret ingredient right, but I didn’t. I thought it was rasam powder, but it turned out instead to be sambar powder. Oh, well, it does have some of the same ingredients. Anyway, an email to Uma later all was well and I knew just what I would make. Rasavangi.

Rasavangi, a dish that’s one of my favorites, features the wonderful eggplant. I know it seems like I’m on eggplant overload right now, but hey, can one ever have too many recipes starring this wonderful veggie? I, for one, don’t think so.

For the Rasavangi, I used a variety I planted this year in my tiny vegetable garden. It’s goes by the cheesy name of Lavender Touch and has a beautiful white color with lavender streaks and tender white flesh (the one in the picture looks more purple than is typical). Believe me, this eggplant is almost too good-looking to eat.

I used red lentils, or masoor dal, although tuvar dal is the more traditional ingredient for Rasavangi. There’s a story behind this: I used to cook the tuvar dal in my handy dandy pressure cooker, because the cooker does a great job of reducing it to the nice, mushy consistency I love in any sambar.

But my big, gorgeous dog Lucy has a tremendous fear of all things noisy, and the hiss of the pressure cooker tops her list. A close second are thunderstorms. Since the DC area is racked by thunderstorms almost every other day in the summer, Lucy is in a perpetual state of panic these days, with her tongue hanging out, tiny whiny noises coming out of her throat. She is so acutely aware of the pressure cooker that she doesn’t even wait for the hiss: she recognizes the distinctive clink the cooker makes when I take it out of the kitchen cupboard and put it on the countertop. The next minute I hear her feet thumping down the basement stairs as she flies for cover.


So despite Desi’s objections- he feels, guy-like, that Lucy has to get over it- I have tried to minimize my use of the pressure cooker as much as possible. In the past few months, I’ve found I can use the microwave to cook most lentils, but tuvar dal takes inordinately long and never comes out quite as well-done as I like it to be.

So pink lentils it was for the Rasavangi, and a good thing too, because not only do they cook up in a jiffy, they tasted absolutely wonderful. Uma’s sambar powder added a spicy, fragrant flair that took this dish from super to sublime. Thanks, dear friend. And thanks also for your patience.

What’s more, Lucy couldn’t be happier…well, almost. Mommie can’t do anything about the thunderstorms.

Rasavangi

Ingredients:

2 medium eggplants, chopped into small, even-sized pieces

3/4 cup red lentils or masoor dal, boiled until very soft

2 tsp of sambar powder (the Arusuvai ingredient)

1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil (not olive)

1 sprig curry leaves

1 1-inch round ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water, then crushed to extract juices. Discard the solids.

A generous pinch of asafetida (hing)

2 dry red chilies

Fry in 1 tsp oil and then grind to a smooth paste:

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp chana dal (bengal gram dal)

1 dry red chili

1/4 cup coconut shreds

For the tadka or seasoning:

1 tsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 dry red chilies

2 tsp udad dal (black gram)

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add the eggplant and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes until the eggplant is quite tender.

Add the tamarind water, sambar powder, and the ground spice paste and let them boil together for a few minutes.

Add the lentils and simmer 8-10 minutes on a low flame for the flavors to merge

For the tadka, heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add mustard seeds, red chilies and black gram.
Take off heat as soon as the lentils turn golden-brown. Add to the rasavangi.

Garnish with chopped coriander.

Rasavangi tastes absolutely delicious served hot with rice. Enjoy!

***

The Arusuvai now goes out to my dear friend Priya of 365 Days of Vegetarian.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

17 thoughts on “Food for Friendship: Rasavangi (And A Scaredy-Cat Dog)

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Uma

    August 2, 2008 at 3:39am

    Thanks for your sweet words about me. I am so glad that you liked my small gifts. Rasavangi is very new to me. Looks so mouth-watering Vaishali! Thanks for introducing a new delicious recipe. Have a great weekend.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Suma Rajesh

    August 2, 2008 at 3:28pm

    u have a lovly blog…yaa uma is very talented blogger..just awesome…ur rasavangi is tempting..luved all the snaps…

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    evolvingtastes

    August 3, 2008 at 12:48am

    Gorgeous colored eggplants, and the rasavangi sounds wonderful. I do make eggplant sambar, but I will have to try the extra step of grinding the spices besides the main powder.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cham

    August 3, 2008 at 5:09am

    Did u started those brinjal from seeds? They re pretty good :) Rasavangi looks delicious Vaishu, Uma is so sweet she even made happy Lucy :) I can imagine what Lucy should think for the pressure cooker whistle :)

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Lavi

    August 3, 2008 at 8:43am

    Rasavangi looks absolutely delicious vaishali..you are a great mom. Lucy is very lucky!

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    delhibelle

    August 3, 2008 at 9:27am

    Rasvangi looks wonderful..thanks for another eggplant recipe, I love eggplants..keep’em coming:)

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Shreya

    August 3, 2008 at 10:14am

    Hi vaishali, ‘Rasavangi’ is a name I have never heard of. But the recipe is just great, and I know I can make it! Your eggplant is amazing:-) Lucy is so cute. I have passed the Booky MeMe tag to you:-)

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Katie

    August 4, 2008 at 5:45am

    That is one attractive eggplant! And an adorable dog.

    Thanks for the note about my earrings – I actually started selling them online (www.IndigoRiverJewelry.etsy.com) if you’re interested.

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Miri

    August 4, 2008 at 7:39am

    Vaishali, this sounds really good – but the funny thing is I have seen a recipe (and even made it twice) for Rasavangi from Mallika Badrinath’s book and if I remember correctly its completely different from this one – double beans, coconut milk etc!! I should go back home and check this…

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Suganya

    August 5, 2008 at 12:42am

    I see pink lentils only in your blog, and not in my neighborhood stores. Eggplant rasavangi is the absolute best, followed by gosthu.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Priti

    August 5, 2008 at 12:39pm

    Rasavangi looks lovely and Lucy taking 1st place for that..

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    A_and_N

    August 5, 2008 at 1:02pm

    Hey when you can grow such great eggplants, its absolutely cool to be on an overload ;) Lovely post! Loved the rasavaangi.

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Latha Narasimhan

    August 10, 2008 at 6:02am

    Kathirika plant looks so beautiful! Nice rasavangi recipe and interesting post! :)
    Lucy is cute! :))

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Bharathy

    August 10, 2008 at 4:11pm

    Lovely dish!.. :)(though I have not tried rasavangi)..
    Lovely post..
    Love Lucy!..:)

    Cheers and hugs :)
    Bharathy

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