Bangalir begun from Brick - Lane
London.. the city of the Queen and the Buckingham Palace, the Royal guards and the red buses, the telephone booth and the red post boxes is bound to mesmerise anyone. This city, will give you that elegant old world feel the moment you step onto the typical British architecture - laden streets, but is at the same time exquisitely maintained and modern. Continuously reminding me of Kolkata ( which was the home of the British not so long ago), London made me miss home. The Dalhousie office buildings, the Grand Hotel, the Metro and New Empire theatre buildings, the uncanny similarities between the different covered markets of London and our very own New Market, the Thames and the Hooghly of our beloved city..it seemed to me that those East India Company people had already made a pretty decent job of making Kolkata a mini - London.
And talking about food. Oh - My- God !!! You can literally get a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g to eat. Fish and chips (what London is famous for) is just a tip of the glacier. Chinese, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Italian, Mexican, Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian, German, Indian (even specifically - Rajasthani thalis, South Indian dosas, Gujrati dhoklas or Bengali aloo posto) - you name it, they have it. A signature of a true cosmopolitan city.
But as someone truly said, " one can take a Bangali out of Bangla but cannot take Bangla out of a Bangali", Brick lane is one such place. This vibrant area with its various flea markets and food stalls along the artistically - graffitied bylanes breathe life into this space.
Home to the Bangladeshi community this area is ready to serve you every Bengali dish you can think of, starting from bhaja moong dal (fried lentil soup) to macher jhol (fish curry), from lau- chingri ( bottle gourd with prawns) to Begun Bhaja ( shallow fried brinjal).
Baingan or brinjal with its fashionable names like eggplant and aubergine, has a long association with Bengali cuisine as an evergreen appetizer. Although bay-goon as we Bengalis call this purple ( beguni ) vegetable doesn't sound very interesting from a foodie's viewpoint, but when gets mixed with the pungent flavour of strong mustard oil can create magic.
Its easy imagining a British laat - sahib sitting in the aram- kedara (armchair) of his sanitorium balcony sipping tea, while lingering at the nature during his occasional visit to Darjeeling for hawa - badal, but can you really picture that same gentleman eating Begun - bhaja with a knife and fork? I know its seemingly difficult, but believe me when I say that Bengali cuisine has travelled a long way since British Raj. Famous even with my non- Bengali friends, Begun - bhaja has been an all time popular dish among a large population. With growing popularity of Vegan foods among the Western community, these simple yet delicious foods has been as easy alternative to many of my friends. For those of you who have not yet given this dish a try, do take a chance..it will surely impress your vegan friends and of course..YOU.
- Brinjal - 1 medium size (300 grams)
- Salt - 1 teaspoon / as per taste
- Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
- Chilli powder - as per taste
- Mustard oil for shallow frying
- Cut the brinjal into circles roughly 1/2 inches width each.
|Half an inch width|
- Sprinkle some salt, chilly powder ( if using ) and turmeric powder, rub them on the brinjal pieces. Keep them marinated for around 10 - 15 minutes. ( This step prevents the brinjal from soaking up excess oil.)
|With salt, turmeric and chilli powder|
- Heat some mustard oil in a pan and put in the brinjal pieces. Put the flame on low and keep them covered for around 5 minutes.
|Fry one side|
- Flip the brinjal pieces, cover the pan and let them rest for another 5 - 10 minutes until the brinjal is cooked.
|Flip and wait for the other side|
And then you are done.
Enjoy begun bhaja with some ghee - bhaat, puris, rotis or even simple daal - bhaat . I'm sure you will love it !!