Grilled Eggplant Involtini
My youngest is going away on a holiday to Europe all by herself, and I am fretting - albeit from the inside, as she has strictly warned me not to give her my panic. She has never been away from home for that long and has never travelled alone. Her older sister texts me from work voicing similar feelings about her kid sis going away and I immediately cast aside my apprehensions and assure her that she will be alright. In that instant, I realise that is what my husband has been doing all the time while bolstering my spirits! Dang! That makes the three of us- no help at all!
I then try to down my worries in work, busying myself with her packing. As I fuss over her, making sure she takes enough warm clothes and doesn’t sacrifice
good sense in favour of fashion, I remember my father – insisting on me taking a monkey cap (a balaclava) to keep warm during a college trip - a co-ed college at that!
LOL! How we (Aai had joined us!) had hooted and howled, with laughter, of course! I was going to Mood Indigo, an IIT Mumbai youth festival. I was going to sing, you see- hence the need to keep colds and coughs away!
I do my “ look I am a cool parent” bit by sharing this for the seventeen hundredth time with the girls – after all I am in sync with times and understand their style quotient.
Then we get into a spat about the luggage- she wants to carry only a backpack as her cabin luggage, whereas I am trying to exploit all of her baggage allowance- why forgo the 7 (or is it 8) kg of cabin luggage?
“Take a handbag as well.”
I am a die-hard handbagger.
I am a die-hard handbagger.
“ Dude - I want to travel light.”
“Well, at least take a luggage strap, in case the suitcase goes ‘govinda’.”
I try to forget that every trip must have its share of govindas, in the form of broken luggage, stubborn zippers and zealot locks.
“Govinda” is a family neologism-cum-meme depicting the slapstick embarrassment when baggage snaps, breaks, caves, tears, gets stuck in transit – eliciting this exclamation- cum – invocation to the Lord God Vishnu, the preserver!
The luggage strap is conceded and a bright neon coloured one is gruffly acknowledged as OK. Then I wisely decide not to push the case of bicycle lock on a chain… although it is useful…
Pleased into action, I unwrap the neon green luggage strap and check out the snazzy plastic snap clip. A far cry from the olive canvas belt of Baba’s holdall!
Ah… the holdall...
The holdaal, as we called it, was an institution in the house. It was quite common in those days for people to travel with their suitcase and their bedding in the holdall. An olive canvas wrap pack, it had pockets at both the ends for a small pillow and blanket. When not in use it was at the family kids’ disposal to play ‘house house’. Baba, aka “Soyinchey Samrat aka the King of Convenience, had got a mobile mattress maker to fashion a stuffed mattress and a little pillow to fit the holdall. I had watched the man at work, fluffing old cotton salvaged from an old mattress (why throw away god quality cotton?). He had spun the cotton clouds, twanging and rattling on his quaint contraption. Aai would supervise the packing of this holdall, sunning the mattress and then making a neat narrow pallet bed smoothing a snow-white bed sheet over it. The flaps on both the ends would be neatly stuffed with the pillow and a folded Solapuri chadar (a cotton wrap). Some more unwieldy garments, shoes (incidentally, shoes were NEVER packed in the suitcase- just as they were never stored in the wardrobe) umbrellas and other irregular shaped objects would be neatly laid across the holdall. Then it would be rolled tightly and trussed up with the belt.
But not without some feathers and fur flying about which eyelet should be pronged. Tight or a tad loose? Baba said tight as the roll would eventually settle down and Aai worried that it might snap…
LOL! This is universal! Are we any different to the Three Men in a Boat packing for the picnic, or the gentlemen of the Bhraman Mandal from Pu La Deshpande’s Batatyachi Chal…
I roll all my worries away, in the holdall of my heart and strap up, just like this eggplant involtini with the green onion straps. I am no different to any parent whose fledgling is flying the nest.
I can hold it all.
Grilled Eggplant Involtini
Involtini, known as Braciola in the US are rolls made with meat slices stuffed with some fillings. Eggplants come to the vegetarian’s rescue when it comes to eating this delicacy what with a variety of fillings that can go into the delectable rolls and so many ways of cooking them- with sauce, without sauce, baked, grilled – the possibilities are enormous!
I feel it’s best to serve the involtini as starters.
2 Italian eggplant- (long and male!) sliced lengthwise into thin (1/2 cm) slices
6-7 long pieces of coloured bell peppers (red, green and yellow)
Thick batons of cheese- mozzarella, cheddar, tasty (optional- I haven’t used them in this version as I was making a low fat version)
2 tablespoon of olive oil
¾ teaspoon each of seasoning mix -freshly ground black pepper, dried/fresh rosemary, dried oregano, garlic powder/garlic paste, sweet paprika
Long chives or spring onions for tying the rolls. If you are using spring onions, you will need to slice one long leaf into four to get a thin ribbon
Salt to taste
Mix the seasoning with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and rub it onto the eggplant slices on both sides. Keep aside covered for 15 minutes. Roll the peppers in the remaining mix and mop it up.
Heat a grilling pan and lightly oil it with the remaining oil. Grill the eggplant slices on each side, pressing the slices to let out the juices and hydrate the slices. Grill until done. Keep aside on kitchen paper and cool. Lightly grill the bell peppers. Grilling peppers is optional; you can roll them into the eggplant slices raw as well.
When fully cooled, take a slice on a working surface, place a slice of each coloured bell pepper and a stick of cheese (optional) and roll the slice. Secure the roll with a toothpick. Roll all the slices in this way and store in a cool place.
Just before serving, tie the rolls with the chives or spring roll ribbons and remove the tooth pick.
You may need to wilt the ribbons in a bit of hot water, if you find it difficult to tie around the involtini.