Sometimes you have all the time in the world to do things but you are stuck in such a situation that it doesn’t permit you to do anything. Except pump your heart faster and clog your brains. And then comes a lightening of ideas which require super-fast execution. Otherwise, both the moment and the idea is Oops, gone! That’s when my super-fat notebook tucked inside my super-heavy handbag comes handy – to jot down these on-the-spur ideas.
Dubai right now is in the grip of Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race which concluded only yesterday. A pre-glimpse to this glamourous event was the inauguration (some say it was only the soft launch!) of the Meydan Beach Club at the Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) Walk on Thursday night. An array of glitzy fireworks lit up the night sky and their frenzied reflections lit up the Persian Gulf below – all the way up to the horizon. The roads leading to JBR and The Walk were all blocked. Outcome? It took me more than 2 hours to reach home while bringing Big Z from school. I could see my home but couldn’t drive even close to it. Our defensive ‘But we stay here!’ screams were met by indifferent shrugs from the policemen who told us that ‘they could do nothing’! I was running late on my agenda. Friends were coming home for dinner and I was still doing the school-run in my apron! Big Z and me – we started discussing dishes inside the car – the experimental ones, which could be stirred up in a jiffy. Or so I thought. I didn’t take into account the amount of time I would take to capture our journey into making the dish. Not to scare you but technically speaking the preparation of the dish doesn’t take that much time. But please add 45 minutes to the preparation time if you are planning my obsessive type of photo-shoot at home!
Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth -
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!
Yoghurt Aubergine with Pomegranate/ Doi Begun
Category – Vegetarian Side-Dish ; Cuisine type – Bengali Fusion
This vegetarian side-dish creates a soft, yoghurt-rich taste and combined with pomegranate it leaves behind a sweet and a sour twang as opposed to the strong taste of Mustard oil.
The Bong Connection - Yoghurt Aubergine or Doi Begun could well be another variation of the many aubergine preparations that the Bengali Cuisine has to offer. The adding of the Mustard Oil while garnishing is also very very Bengali. Bengalis often mash steamed vegetables with a dash of Mustard Oil (called Bhaté, specially Mashed Potatos or Aloo Bhaté). And adding Mustard paste or Shorshé will probably make it even closer to the Bengali heart and palate. But the strong Mustard paste and the Mustard Oil may take the dish away from others’ heart and palate. So, I think I will take the middle path and keep the dish a bit more Mustard-light!
The preparation also reminds me of the Fried Aubergine or Begun Bhaja that accompanies many a traditional Bengali meal. The Arabic twist here is that we grill the Aubergines instead of frying them like in Motabbel (an Arabic dip made with eggplants, olive oil, tahini paste, garlic etc). The latter also gives it the ‘healthy’ tag than the traditional Bengali Begun Bhajas which are shallow fried in oil.
For the printable recipe→
Serves 8 persons
Preparation time: 45-50 min (pre-cooking preparation – 15 minutes; post-cooking – 5 minutes; grilling – 30 minutes)
5 Aubergines (though the most common ones found in the supermarket are the rounded ones, here the slender long ones have been chosen)
Turmeric – 4 tsp
Garlic powder – 4 tbsp (we are particularly fond of garlic)
Salt as per taste
White Oil – 1 tsp
For the Yoghurt mix
500gm Low-fat Yoghurt
Salt – 1tsp
Sugar – 2 tsp
Black Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp
1 big red Pomegranate
Coriander leaves – 1 bunch, finely chopped (you can reduce/ increase the amount as per individual preference)
Mustard Oil – 2 tbsp
Method of Preparation
- Slice the Aubergines vertically into 4 pieces so that each piece is slender and long
- Smear the Aubergines with turmeric, salt and garlic powder and let them aside for 10 minutes
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Put the Aubergines in a slightly greased flat tray so that each piece is grilled evenly
- Grill the for 30 minutes or until each piece is tender
For the Yoghurt Mix
- Mix salt, Black pepper and sugar to the Yoghurt and mix thoroughly (like in Raita, the Indian Yoghurt dip)
- Add the chopped coriander leaves
- Pour the mixture over the grilled Aubergines
For the Final Garnishing
- Pour the uncooked Mustard Oil over the Yoghurt mix to leave strong aroma
- Decorate the dish with pomegranate seeds
The journey as captured by my camera, starting with the ingredients…
The preparation is very simple. At this stage we have a quick chat as to what is going to complement this dish – plain white Rice or some kind of a Bread – Indian Bread or an Arabic Bread perhaps? We settle on Rice. Big Z is obsessed wit Rice – plain white Basmati Rice. A proof that her Bengali genes are intact. Bengalis are predominantly Rice-eaters – they forget to eat the Rice only when the sweets come in!
Well, friends are called friends because either they are the hardest critics or they are overly pampering. We passed with flying colours. They loved our Yoghurt Aubergine with Pomegranate. There were further suggestions -
1) Fry garlic and pour it over the dish along with the oil and
2) Fry lots of onions and use as garnishing
Why should I be left behind. I too, have suggestions for a few add-ons in the ingredients list when we cook this dish again in future -
1) Add mustard paste to turmeric, salt and garlic powder while smearing the aubergines before grilling… this will ‘Bengalise’ the dish even more!
2) Add pine nuts, chopped fresh parsley leaves, sesame seeds and a pinch of cumin powder to the garnishing… this will ‘Arabicise’ the dish even more! This will justify the decade-long stay on the Dubai shores and add to all the Middle-Eastern Moments of mine, the quintessential Bengali me travelling the world.
Unblogging it all… Ishita
PS: I forgot to mention that the fireworks were brilliant. It was quite a task for me to concentrate on making the dish while the view from the balcony was beckoning me every now and then. Do have a look at the photos – aren’t they absolutely dazzling?
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