Line a cookie tray or cake pan with aluminum foil. Apply the 1 tbsp of oil over the eggplant and place it in the tray. Broil in the oven on high mode for 40 to 45 minutes, flipping it once in the middle. When the broiling is complete, remove it from the oven and let it cool. When the eggplant is easy to handle, remove the skin. It easily comes off. Remove the flesh and mash it thoroughly, and set aside.
Prepare the gothsu podi
In a pan or kadai (I used my soapstone vessel), add the ingredients given under "for the gothsu spice powder" - coriander seeds, chana dal, toor dal, cumin seeds, whole pepper, and dried red chilies. Roast until the lentils change to light golden brown and turn off the heat. Let it cool. Then transfer it to a mixer jar and grind it coarsely without adding any water.
Prepare the gothsu
Heat the same or kadai (I used my soapstone vessel) and add one tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves. Let the mustard seeds splutter and the dal turn light brown. Now add the cherry tomatoes and the chopped brinjal. Mix well and add the salt and turmeric powder. Add 1.5 cups of water cook until the brinjals turn soft and tender.
When the brinjals turn soft and tender, mix 1 tsp of tamarind paste with 1 cup of water and add it to the gothsu and let it simmer. When it simmers, add the gothsu podi and mix well.
Let the gravy simmer again for 3 to 4 minutes, and then add the broiled and mashed eggplant. Mash the gravy again. The brinjal pieces should be soft and chunky. Mix it well. And bring it to one boil. Check for the consistency and if required, add 1/2 more cup of water. If you are adding water, let it simmer for a few more minutes. If not, add some cilantro and turn off the heat.
Drizzle the gingelly oil on top and serve it with venpongal or idli.
Eggplant- As mentioned in the post, typically, they use the local-variety of eggplants for this recipe. I went with what I had in hand. Also, along with mashed brinjal, I added cut brinjal as we love the bite of brinjals.
Tomatoes- I used my homegrown cherry tomatoes. You can use one small tomato. Depending on the tomato sourness, adjust the tamarind paste.
As always, adjust the salt and spices as per your preference.
The toor dal, whole pepper, and cumin seeds in the spice powder add a nice flavor, and I highly recommend giving it a try with that.