Sunday, December 30, 2012

Roasted Eggplant /Begun Pora with some Hilly Romance

Have you ever seen the Satyajit Ray film, Kanchenjunga? There’s this iconic scene where incredibly beautiful Karuna Banerjee, clad in a beautiful sari wades around the romantic tea plantations of the valley, trying to romance the hero. While the ‘Hero’ goes on and on about the construction details of the bridges in that area!! Which made way to the most unromantic proposal in the history, which goes like’ “Ei romantic surroundings-ey tomar hoito money hochhey, love is the most important thing in the world. Kintu Kolkatai phirey giye tomar jodi kokhono money hoi prem-er cheye security boro kimba security thekey prem grow kortey parey, taholey amai janio. Kemon?" – (In these romantic surroundings, you might feel that love is the most important thing in the world, however after going back to Calcutta if you feel security or money are more important , then do let me know)In the given backdrop, it had the faint hint of practicality that was the perfect counterpoint to the awe-inspiring grandeur of Kanchenjunga.

In hindsight, I should have seen the movie in my 20s, when romanticism almost always won over the realism factor.

Seriously, in my teens, it took very little to please me — a cute friendship band and you won me over. First half of my twenties were all about pseudo intellectualism and good wines, the second half saw me get married and get all wrapped up in domesticity.

My kitchen love is an extension of that role indeed , although I’m afraid that this too is taking a  very utilitarian bend. Yeah sad, I know! One heck of a old soul,  but certainly being (or feeling) old doesn't disqualify me from looking at life through rose-colored glasses.

And if there is ever a time to reignite that Himalaya style romance, this is it. Even if the misty weather is only on my TV set. Good food should take care of the rest.All it calls for is a little kitchen utilitarianism —because the best part about North India’s winter veggy bounties is that very little effort is requited to enjoy them. This is important, as it leaves more time for other happy pursuits in life.(like watching Satyajit Ray movies, in my case)

People are of mixed opinions about Begun (Eggplant), I couldn't quite understand that, but if you fall under the “Hate” camp, I’d suggest trying to find big fat Eggplants, which is less seedier and fleshy. Now barbecue it or do it my mom’s way of burning it over slow fire.You might even change your opinion.

Let’s start then. What say?

 Begun Pora/Roasted Eggplant

1 big Eggplant
1 onion, chopped finely
1 cupshelled Peas (optional)
2 diced Tomatoes (optional)
5-6 springs fresh Coriander/Cilantro
2-3 green Chillies
5-6 cloves Garlic
2-3 Tbsp Mustard oil

How I did It :
Wash an pat dry the Eggplant. Now massage the mustard oil generously and keep aside.

I lined my oven with an aluminum foil and broiled it at 350 F/175 C for about an hour. You can also broil it, grill it on the outside grill, or roast it directly over flame.

Once the eggplant has cooled, its time to remove the charred wrinkly skin and mash the soft flesh inside.

Now heat mustard oil in a pan and sauté the onions, tomatoes, peas and garlic till golden brown. Add this mixture with the leftover garlic seasoned mustard oil and salt to taste to the fleshy mashed Eggplant. If you wish , you can all but the onions out.Its purely a matter of whats in the pantry. Instead of stir frying, you can also add roasted onions, tomatoes and garlic. Just mash with a generous drizzle of mustard oil.

Garnish with fresh coriander. It’s ready to serve.

 Although people swear that its tastes best with rotis, I love mine with rice. You can choose .

 Now it's time to leave you with a thought…something I try to think everytime I enter the kitchen.

 “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. “
~Thomas Keller

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