Sunday, 14 November 2010

Begoon Powra (Fire-Roasted Brinjals)

Oh, begoon powra. So easy to make, such delightful flavours, and by gods have I missed you while I've been away!

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to imply one doesn't get brinjals in the US, because one does. Eggplants, they call it. They're beautiful things, perfectly shaped and a lovely glistening purple (and therefore an amusing stand-in for the male genitalia). BUT, when you cook them, they are magically transformed into soggy newsprint. It's hopeless! An Italian classmate of mine used to make parmigiana for his roomie and department-buddies, but refused to eat it himself because "these are not real eggplants". I empathised with him. Tropical brinjals (or perhaps brinjals that have not been modified genetically) have an altogether different taste. 

And, as everyone knows, I'm spectacularly intolerant of diversity in vegetable-flavours. Our brinjal is the right brinjal! Bring on the jingoistic xenophobia!!!

Okay, so how does one make begoon powra? C'est bien simple.

Take a brinjal. Slice it through the middle, lengthwise. Rub it with olive/mustard oil (oils with a strong flavour).

Pop it into open flames. Show no mercy. Wait till one side is properly roasted, then hold the long stem to turn the brinjal.

Now it's fate has been sealed. Look at the charred skin. Resistance is futile.

Rub your palms with oil and peel the charred outer layers off. Actually, give it ten after roasting or you'll singe your fingers. The escaping steam is not kind. Then use a knife or a fork to make mincemeat -- well, minceveggie -- out of the rest.

Now pour more of the same oil (we use mustard), salt, sugar, chopped green chilies and diced red onions (we ran out of onions that day so it's missing here). Don't stint on the sugar, because the Bengali begoon powra has a definite sweet after-taste. Plus you need to offset the strong flavours of mustard oil, green chilies and onions (red onions in India don't taste sweet, just pungent). Add all those things, then mix the hell out of it with a big fork. Or knife. Or something.

Serve, if you can whip up the energy, with rooti. Or roti, depending on your linguistic preference. Or just get rooti from you local Indian resturant.

Please observe, by the way, the sheer magical skill by which I can make six rootis at the same time:

... okay, that was Shobhadi. But I totally could if I wanted to. Really. I could

Never mind. Enjoy your roasted brinjals :-)


Dea-chan said...

I believe in your magical rooti skill Rimi! And even though I don't eat eggplant/aubergine/brinjals, I completely believe that it doesn't taste right here. Apparently, MOST veggies don't taste properly over here since we beat the snot out of them GMO-wise, as well as shipping long distances, as well as... etc. Yeah. Hate the food system here. But you knew that. :-P

Rimi said...

Yeah. I knew that. And it's time you led the nation into revolution demanding citizens' rights to tasty, organic vegetables. Just tell teenage women they can eat AND be skinny if supermarkets start selling food as god made them, and you have a nation-wide movement right there ;-)

[And the endorsements will fund your farm-buying P-Dub dreams :D]

Anushka said...

Wow, the 'Alternate Rimi' kind of took me by surprise. I can't cook for nuts, but I can (and do) Eat, and the recipes have great evocative power. :D Not to mention a very distinct persona of their own. Lotssoffun.

Tinker Bells said...

Try adding some curd... it tastes amaaaaaaazing :)

Rimi said...

Anushka--aww, thank you, darling. That is *such* a lovely thing to say.

Tinker Bells--next time. For sure! Thanks for the tip :-)

Dhruva said...

While the brinjal can be surprisingly malleable after roasting, the essential texture will be significantly different if you do not cut the brinjal open before roasting. I like both kinds, so I suggest you try both. Also, squeezing in a bit of lemon juice works wonderfully well for the mash.