Saturday, February 23, 2008
Grandfather was a gardening freak. He spent most of his time in the garden after retirement. Various types of croton plants, roses and hibiscus looked happy and healthy under his care and supervision. He could not stand even one weed or a small tuft of grass on the neatly laid path around the pond, where he liked to walk in the mornings and evenings. A gardener was especially employed to keep the weeds out of sight. He had so much become a part of the garden, that the garden looked virtually incomplete on the days he took off.
Grandfather had a vegetable patch and many fruit trees in our garden. His love for the garden had rubbed off on us too. So we decided to grow our own vegetable garden during our Dasara holidays. Since grand father was too possessive to lend out his gardening tools which he guarded safely in a very huge iron box, my youngest brother successfully pestered father into buying a small gardening set from the Dasara exhibition. We also picked up a few seeds packets from the flower show.
Grandfather graciously lent his gardener for digging and preparing the soil. We were highly excited on the day we sowed the seeds. We took turns to water our vegetable patch, after we returned from school, without even caring to change out of our school uniforms. There was jubilation when the first shoots showed up, and later when the plants had flowered.
We harvested our vegetables on a Sunday morning, and mother promised to cook the same for lunch. Beans, tomatoes, brinjal and spinach were glowing fresh as mother washed them under the tap. It so happened that our old Granduncle landed at our home on the same day. The moment he arrived, he announced a list of food items and vegetables he would not eat, either due to the vows he had made to various deities or due to his personal whims. Mother had prepared a delicious Vangi Bath and she had to skip Granduncle’s leaf while serving, as he would not eat brinjal. All of us enjoyed the garden fresh vegetables and the aromatic Vangi Bath mother had prepared with great expertise. Granduncle saw us smacking our lips, and when Grandfather and father demanded for more helpings, Granduncle could not control his curiosity. Grandfather encouraged him to taste a spoon of the delicacy, he reluctantly allowed mother to server him a ¼ spoon only. Later on he requested a large serving of Vangi Bath and relished it sheepishly, while the four of us hid our grins. Granduncle had to admit, that brinjal was after all not that bad a vegetable when mother prepared it and he even decided to score off the vegetable from the ‘not-to-make’ list whenever he visited us.
Here is mother's recipe for a lip smacking Vangi Bath.
For Vangi Bath Masala
Coriander seeds – 2 tbs
Bengal gram dal – 2 tbs
Black Gram dal – ¼ tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch
Cardamom – 1
Cloves – 4
Dry red chillies – 12
Dried coconut gratings – 1 tbsp
1. Heat ¼ tsp oil
2. Add asafoetida
3. Next add cinnamon, cardamom and clove and fry.
4. Next add the dals and coriander seeds and roast till golden in colour.
5. Add red chillies and roast for few more seconds until chillies are crisp.
6. Allow to cool and then dry grind to a coarse powder.
7. Add copra and grind for few more seconds.
This powder can be stored in an air tight container from a week to 10 days.
The powder looses aroma on prolonged storage.
To prepare Vangi Bath
Rice – 250 gram / 1 cup
Tender green brinjal - ¼ Kg
Mustards seeds - ½ tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt – 11/2 tsp or to taste
Lime – 1 small
Cooking oil – 3 tbsps
Cashew Nuts – 50 grams
1.Cook rice in just enough water. Do not over cook. Cool the rice.
2. Cut brinjal into 1'’ strips, and keep immersed in cold water to prevent discoloration.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
4. Drain the brinjal and add to the oil, along with curry leaves, turmeric and salt and stir.
5. Cover and cook on low fire, stirring occasionally. Brinjals cook very fast, so take care not to overcook them. The pieces should retain their shape.
6. Add the prepared masala powder and blend with the vegetable.
7. Squeeze in the line juice and remove from heat.
8. Loosen the rice until the grains are separated.
9. Add the vegetable to the rice and mix well until the spice coats the rice.
10. Serve hot, topped with fried cashew nuts.
Raita, curd, avail, papad and chips go well with Vangi Bath. The choice is yours!