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Friday, August 5, 2016

Stuffed Baby Aubergines (Bharali Vangi)

 Bharali Vangi (Stuffed Baby Aubergines): A Marathi Delicacy

           As I visited Mumbai about a month ago, I asked a friend there to recommend authentic Marathi(of the Indian state of Maharastra) vegetarian dishes. He did recommend this as we met, Bharali Vangi, and ordered many more famous Marathi dishes and did not let us pay, not even share the cost! 
           In Mumbai we had it with Bajri Roti ( handmade thin flat bread of millet) and I liked it very much. So, after my returned I searched for the recipe and watched a few videos on YouTube in order to learn how to prepare it. This is my first try.
Bharali Vangi
             "Vangi" means aubergine. "Bharali" literally means ''filled" i.e. stuffed. But believe me, the preparation is NOT simple.

Goda Masala

          This is a unique spice blend of stone flower, nagkeshar (mesua ferrea) coriander seeds, dry coconut, white sesame seeds, red chilli powder, turmeric, bay leaf,  cloves, and cotton seed oil, originally from the state of Maharashtra, in the western part of India different. The ingredients may slightly differ depending on different regions. 

M-- , who helps me learning Marathi language, gave this to me a few days ago as we met up to take a late afternoon walk in the British built part of Central Kolkata, where footpaths are wide and empty and clean, the areas are green and grand colonial buildings, some are of red bricks, proudly stand, and statues remind us the glorious sacrifices of our freedom fighters. It was a very rainy day, much to our relief. The sky was overcast and it was dark already in the late afternoon.  




          I was late to reach Esplanade where M-- was waiting for me. She felt sleepy and bought hot tea in a mud cup as I finally appeared before her. The first thing she did was dragging the Goda Masala packet out of her cotton fabric bag. She brought it for me from Mumbai. "Goda" means ''sweet". What do we say in Marathi when we meet a child? -- 'kiti god!' (with the 't' dental and the 'd', retroflex, literally, meaning "how sweet!"). Assuming the spice would taste something near sweet relying on this linguistic evidence, I, impatient with my curiosity, over-enthusiastically scooped out one teaspoon of Goda Masala as soon as I cut open the packet today and poured it into my mouth! And... uuuhhh.... no! I know... you are laughing LOUD at me now!

The Stuffing

The Ingredients of The Stuffing, and The Seasonin
         I chopped a medium sized onion, a large tomato, two small green chilies and a few cloves of garlic. I also chopped a small coconut. I sauteed all these in ground nut oil. I roasted about 75 grams of sesame seed and 50 grams of roasted ground nut that I ground coarsely. I also chopped half of a small onion thinly for seasoning which consists of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and a small green chilli, too. In the photo below you can see clockwise the tomato-onion-garlic-chilli mixed in the blender, sauteed coconut, the goda masala packet, roasted sesame seeds and coarsely ground ground nut in the tiny bowl.I blended all the ingredients in the photo above and the result is the paste below:
The Stuffing Ready
         Then I cut the aubergines (about 350 grams) as shown in the photo below. It is important to make sure that the head of the aubergine is intact. Then I stuffed  with the paste above. The second picture below shows the baby aubergines ready to get cooked. Don't they look beautiful? 

           Now I heated a little ground nut oil, added the seasoning and then the aubergines, let them cook for a little while and changed the sides slowly and carefully. I added now the paste left after stuffing, stirred very cautiously and cover the pan and let it cook for about 20 minutes. 
              I had it with steamed rice this time. But it goes very well with roti.