Monday, April 5, 2010

Brinjal - the versatile vegetable

Why a post on Brinjal?
as my favorite vegetable, i thought that it was time to give it some space on this blog!

the sheer number of varieties that this vegetable comes in, does not make it any common vegetable.
each one, due to its size and texture is ideally suited for some specific dishes.

The more popular varieties in the west - called aubergine in europe and egg plant in the US - are not as tasty as the smaller varieties you get in india.

I am sure you would have tasted it as a normal dry sabzi, as a gravy-ish bartha or the small ones, that are stuffed with masala as in the 'ennai-katthrikkai'.

other variations i like include the 'porichha kootu', with a dash of shredded coconuts or that little extra flavor that it adds to the avial - or the sambar-ish rasavangi,

you might also like the Vangi bath or gothsu or the special mangalore style gravy made with black channa that goes very well with jolada roti - all karnataka specialities.

when i used to live in Bombay and visit home for vacations, i used to enjoy a different dish made of brinjal every day, specially made by my mother.

I have been watching the recent controversy about Bt brinjal. the activists - both pro and against - are all missing the simple point - with the introduction of the Bt-ed variety, will the diversity be extinct? the commercial interests would surely overtake the gourmet's interests, and, we might have just the engineered variety.

i have not tasted it or seen any reports of how this new variety would taste.

the arguments on both sides are about the economics, the possible control of the market by multi-nationals, the possible effects of this variety on people etc etc etc.

nobody seems to care about the taste.

we have so many campaigns to preserve our heritage art, culture, wildlife.. but taste?
recently one of the magazines carried some articles on 'kitchen archaeology' - which included capturing and preserving old hand-written recipe notes, which are very traditional to every family. they may preserve the ingredients list, the process steps etc - but without the right brinjals, the original taste cannot be preserved or experienced.

in any case, if the taste can be preserved or the variety not compromised, i may not mind the Bt brinjal!
particularly if it can be used to make one of my top choices for dishes made with brinjal - the 'katthirikkkai rasam'.
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