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I was allowed a lot of liberties as a child – like scribbling on the wall. Each time I learnt a new alphabet or number in my pre school, the first thing I’d do after coming home was to rush to my wall and scribble it out nice and big for everyone to see how knowledgeable I had become. And then there were these other times when I’d just draw as if the entire wall was my canvas. It was a supremely satisfying experience.

The scribbling became more structured after a year. Amma made sure I switched from the wall to pieces of paper, and that I graduated to using colour pencils. Most importantly she had negotiated a very important deal with me – I was to sit at a pre determined time every day, follow her instructions and learn to draw and shade from her. My drawing lessons began with the two most wonderful looking eatables – Mango and Brinjal (Eggplant/Aubergine). They were ideal to begin small lessons in shape, stroke and shading. I loved drawing the Brinjal – a green stylish cap, a fat pot like belly and the strokes of purple and white – it was a happy experience. I drew it almost every other day till I got it right, perfect like the real thing.

Making Roasted Brinjal is an experience much like my first brush with art. I love roasting eggplant, I have roasted eggplant so many times since I have started cooking and yet I can never get tired of it. Everything about making this dish makes me smile – from cuttting the eggplant into thin discs, to preparing the masala to watching the eggplant brown over a just medium flame.

Ingredients

For the Wafers

  • Eggplant – 1
  • Cornflour – 6 tbsp
  • Amchur – 1 tbsp
  • Turmeric – 1 tsp
  • Hing – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Chilly Oil for Glaze (optional)

Method

  1. Slice the eggplant into thin wafers.
  2. Mix the cornflour, salt, amchur, turmeric.
  3. Dust a broad skillet with Oil. Dust a few eggplant wafers with the cornflour mix.
  4. Over medium heat place dusted wafers in the skillet and cook one side of the wafers till slightly golden. Turn and cook the other side of the wafers. Repeat until both sides of the wafers are roasted and crisp.
  5. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. Transfer to a serving dish and glaze with Chilly oil.

Serve hot as a starter, dish on the side or use to prepare eggplant stacks.

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Perfectly roasted Sepakizhangu (Taro/ Colacasia/ Arbi) – crisp on the outside, well steamed and soft inside – is a dead simple recipe that contrary to popular perception doesn’t require any deep frying or a bottle of oil.

Let me get this straight. Taro is NOT inherently gooey, mashy and ichy. Taro is more often than not badly cooked and made into a gooey mess. Roasting doesn’t require oodles of oil. Roasting require good regulation of temperature and patience. There’s isn’t much to the art of roasting, besides cooking on a slow flame and knowing when and how to turn the vegetable. It’s a one of a kind experience in slow cooking.

I turn my nose up at people who don’t like Taro (even if they are friends). How can someone not like something that tastes as good as this? I can write an ode to Taro. A bowlful of roasted Taro with a newspaper or book to read is my idea of a perfectly lazy late morning snack.

Ingredients

  • Sepakizhangu (Colacasia/ Taro/ Arbi) – 1/2 kg
  • Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Channa Dal – 1/2 tsp
  • Urad Dal (split) – 1/2 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli Powder – 1/2 tsp (or more if you like)
  • Hing – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to Taste
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Method

  1. Wash the Taro well. Pressure Cook the Taro with the skin till its well steamed but not mushy. (Wait for the first whistle, turn the heat to low till the cooker is on its way to the second whistle. Throw a towel over the whistle to stop steam from escaping and switch the cooker off.)
  2. Remove the Taro from the cooker when the pressure drops. Allow to cool for sometime. You can sink Taro in some cool water if you like.
  3. When mildly warm but not hot, skin the Taro and cut into discs. Add Turmeric , Salt and Hing, mix and keep aside.
  4. In a large skillet , heat the Oil, crackle the mustard seeds and toast the urad dal and the channa dal.
  5. On a low to medium flame, add the Sepakizhangu. Spread evenly on the skillet with a flat ladle. Allow one side to cook for a while. When it starts to turn the lightest of golden yellow, overturn and roast the other side. Repeat this process till all sides start turning a deep golden more or less evenly. Keep the flame on low to medium all the time. Do not try to roast on high.
  6. Add chilli powder and mix well. Roast for one more minute.
  7. Remove from flame when the Taro is crisp on all sides.

Sepakizhangu roast is a great side dish for sambhar rice vethal kuzhambu rice and all variety rices.

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