It’s bitter cold and raining in
but we have been warmed by a meal
of our favourite ‘vaangyachey kaap’. I sit down to write the recipe. This is a
dish from Melbourne Maharashtra. Vangi means eggplant
and kaap is slice. What do I call it in
English? Egg plant chops? No, sounds too porky. Eggplant chips? No, these aren’t deep fried.
Eggplant fritters? No, they aren’t really battered like fritters.
Eggplant slice? Yes!!
‘Slice’ is such a mouth watering word. Perhaps not when it is a mundane slice of bread one handles in the morning rush. But it certainly is mouth watering when you remember slicing a loaf of the still warm, moist and slightly sour, soft bread from John’s bakery and generously spreading it with Amul butter or white butter. Dunking this slice into a glass of thick hot sweet boiled chai gives you a brekkie fit for a king. (Aside- have you ever wondered why tea tastes different when sipped out of a glass, a stainless steel tumbler, a porcelain mug, a bone china cup or a kullad?). This brings to mind another childhood memory. In one of his books, James Herriot the famous vet/writer has recounted his hard struggle one bitter cold night to help a birthing cow. The grumpy farmer is of no help, but afterwards the farmer’s wife makes up for all the trouble by plying Herriot with thick slices of homemade bread slathered in home churned butter and topped with golden home harvested honey. I remember reading the book, as was my wont, into the wee hours of the morning when hunger pangs struck and I had no better choice than to vicariously share Herriot’s gut warming pleasure.
Another childhood memory clamouring for a slice this word space is that of waiting impatiently one summer for the two volumes of fairy tales Mother had ordered from Readers’ Digest and finally when they arrived in the mail, reading each one in one sitting ! Somewhere in there was this story of an ogre devouring slices of watermelon. “Slurp! Slurp”, they would go. This was my first realisation, years before commencing literary studies and learning about onomatopoeia, that the sound of some words echoed their sense!
Eggplant Slice or Vaangyachey Kaap
1 cup besan (gram flour) – ¾ cup
¼ cup rice flour
2 tablespoons bread crumbs (optional- you could also use semolina)
1 tsp red chilli powder (or more)
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
A pinch of ajwain powder (or dried oregano)
A pinch of hing
Salt to taste
Oil for shallow frying.
Keep the slices of eggplant immersed in water. In a shallow bowl or a deep plate mix the flours, bread crumbs, spices and salt.
This mixture has to be kept dry. Drain the eggplant slices on kitchen paper and dredge each slice in the dry spiced flour mixture. Press the slice firmly into the mixture on each side to ensure the flour coats both the sides of the slice. Heat a pan and pour a little oil. Place a dredged slice on the pan.
Repeat this with each slice until the surface of the pan is filled. Shallow fry the slices on one side. You may want to press the slices with a flat spatula to let out the moisture so that the slices take up less oil to cook. Flip the slices over and pour a little more oil. Make sure each slice gets its fair share of oil to turn a uniform golden brown. Remove on kitchen paper and repeat with the remaining slices.