Jowar is a staple crop of the North Karnataka region, called ‘JoLa’ in Kannada. The rotti’s made from the flour is the daily food of most people from that region. It is a very popular regional specialty served in hotels all around Karnataka. Any local who has travelled on the Mysore- Bangalore Highway must have stopped over at the Kamat Lokaruchi Hotel to enjoy the soft, hot rotti’s served with spicy Ennegai palya and other north Karnataka side dishes, in a traditional manner on a Banana leaf. North Karnataka food is nowadays a rage in Bangalore. It is such a popular cuisine that Kamat has quite a few branches around Bangalore now. It has also become a great home industry, like ‘Sanjaya’s store’ in Thyagarajanagar, which operates out of a small garage. This store is so popular that the food gets sold out in no time, and sometimes needs advance booking, for some dishes like ‘Bele Holige’.
I can close my eyes and almost feel the taste of hot Jolad rotti topped with some ghee, and the most yummy ennegai at the new Kamath in Basavanagudi, with live classical music playing in the background and a cool breeze. Oh how I miss Bangalore.
‘Ennegai’ is a general kannada word, which translates to ‘vegetable cooked in oil’. The more famous vegetable used is brinjal, which is known as ‘badanekaayi’ in Kannada . It is a classic combination with Jowar rotti, but can also eaten with other roti’s like chapathi or Akki Rotti.
Ingredients for the Ennegai Palya-
1. Small Brinjals- 10 to 12
2. Onion- 1 Large chopped finely
3. Tomato- 2 chopped finely
4. Oil- 5 Tbsp
Grind the following ingredients to a fine paste with very little water-
1. Fresh Coconut- 2 Tbsp
2. Garam Masala Powder- 1 tsp
3. Seasame-1 Tbsp
4. Cinnamon- 2 inch stick
5. Tamarind- 1/2 Tsp Paste
6. Coriander Jeera Powder- 1/2 Tsp
7. Red Chilli Powder- 1/2 Tsp
8. Turmeric powder- 1/4 Tsp
9. Onion- 1/4 of the chopped onion
10. Fresh ginger- 1 inch piece
10. Salt- to taste
Keeping the stem intact, slit the brinjals perpendicularly into 4 pieces, taking care that the brinjal does not fall apart. Fill the brinjals with the half the freshly ground paste. The brinjals can cook faster and with less oil, if they are drizzled with a little oil and cooked in the microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Heat the remaining oil in a thick bottom pan. Saute the onions till they are translucent, add the chopped tomatoes, and the remaining paste. Stir the mixture, till the oil starts floating. Add the half done brinjals, cook till completely done, by covering the pan. Enjoy with any hot rotti, and some spicy chutney Pudi.