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Friday, September 4, 2015

Begun Bhaja -- Fried Eggplant Slices

Fried eggplant or begun bhaja is a popular side dish among us. Who can imagine the khichuri (a tasty, nutritious and popular dish of rice and lentils) without the begun bhaja at a Saraswati Puja feast at school? Begun bhaja is also perfect for luchi (deep fried flat bread of refined flour) or phulko ruti (baked flat bread of wheat flour). You can enjoy them with steamed rice and lentil soup, too.
Begun bhaja is incredibly easy to make. Depending on the size and shape of the eggplant, you can cut it into different pieces. If the eggplant are the long and thin ones, cut them into round shapes like coins. It the eggplant is big and the diameter of the round shares is too big, divide each round slice into semi-circles.
Add salt and turmeric powder to the pieces and mix them well with your hands.
We traditionally use mustard oil but I usually use sunflower oil.
While using mustard oil, it is important to heat it till the smoking point to get rid of its typical smell.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Add the eggplant pieces and cover with a lid. After some time, open the lid and change sides, add a little more oil if required, then close the lid again and let it cook. Eggplant absorbs oil, so, I find it of no use to add a lot of oil in the beginning. And there is no need to deep fry also. Since eggplant cooks very fast, especially the quality of the vegetable is good, so, I check every 2/3 minutes and change the side. You can press the flesh of the eggplant slightly to check how it is done. It melts in your mouth when thoroughly done.

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