Monday, July 14, 2014

Aai's Bharli Vangi and Bombay Times

That placemat is from my Aai's collection. 
It is one of the mementos given by MJ Kaka to her.

It's been long since I last made Aai's Bharli Vangi. I have been home alone for 2 weeks now and how I hated to cook for myself. I lived on scraps of bread and veggies just stir fried or ate Usal just on its own. I didn't bother to even rustle up a crunchy salad. Then one day I decided to go all the way out and make the DaL- bhaat, Bharli vangi and Rice roti meal.

I laid out everything on the floor as its easy to take a top shot of the floor than of the table. I was so hungry after I was done with the shoot and after all the cooking that I just squatted on the floor and started eating. One morsel of the vanga/ aubergine and my eyes welled up. It was the taste of my Mom's hand. 

It had been raining that day and though this is the 3rd monsoon after I have returned to my city of birth, every monsoon brings back memories of my Aai walking me to school. Me clad in a raincoat ofcourse and Aai in the umbrella with her saree hooked up a bit to avoid messing in the dirty water on the road. Of returning home wet and she handing me out the towel. I'd dump the clothes in the bathroom meanwhile she would have made ginger tea and pulled out the tin of khari or fried hot kanda bhajji which she would have prepped up before I came back home.

Monsoons in Mumbai are so different from Bangalore. We have just 4 months of it and those four months are the most cherished. On twitter, a question was thrown up, if it was OK to eat Bombay duck in the monsoons. To which I replied, if it is available there was no harm in enjoying a good fry. Ofcourse the fishing in closed in the Monsoons. If it is available in the market it's a prized catch as someone has risked their life to go out into the ferocious sea. This conversation lead Ismat Tahseen to call me up and ask a few questions. Here is the article which was published in Bombay Times with me talking on regional variation of  the fries and my Bombil coconut curry. 

 Bombay Times
click on the image to read the full article
Aai would have been proud. Her daughter who did not like helping in the kitchen as a kid but grew up to a teenager who started taking interest in cooking, learning from her father, to having this passion for all things food! 

This post is in her memory on her day and time when she flew off to merge into the universe. Aai I miss you, it has been 20 years and as the years pass I miss you even more. 

L-R : Masoor DaL on steamed rice, Bharla Vanga and Rice roti


10- 12 nos. small brinjals/ aubergines/ vangi
2 large onions 
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon red chili powder or less 
1 teaspoon Goda masala/ curry powder
1 tablespoon jaggery/ raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoon oil
1 cup water

Make the stuffing

Grind onions to coarse consistency. Mix into it chili powder, cilantro, curry powder or Goda masala, salt and jaggery. Save.

Now remove the caps of the small aubergines wash and slit them once turn and slit them again to 3/4th way down to get a nice deep cross. Make sure they are all good inside. 

Next stuff them with the onion coriander masala stuffing.

Once you are ready with all the stuffed aubergines. Take a wok. Heat oil in it. Place the stuffed aubergines in it. Cover and cook for 5 mins. Remove the lid and turn them around just once all off them with a gentle hand. Now add the water. Cook for 10 mins with the lid on.

Shake the wok around that will give a turn around to the aubergines. DO NOT USE A SPATULA. Cooked aubergines are delicate and should never be turned around with a spatula, else you end up with a mess.

Once all water is dried up, put off the heat. Cover and keep until you are ready to serve.

These stuffed aubergines or Bharli Vangi are deliciously sweet and savory at the same time. Serve them with your favorite bread or eat just like that.

I am also posting this recipe for my friend Penny who requested it. She is soon to be blessed with an harvest of her homegrown aubergines so hope she gets to try this recipe.

Notes for Penny: You can skip the Goda masala and use lesser red chili powder as you can handle. The main flavor of this dish is from the cooked and partly caramelized onion paste used as stuffing. 

I hope all of you try this recipe and let me know how you enjoyed it.

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