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   Every time the wife goes to Panchgani..... (April 4, 1996)

Every time the wife goes to Panchgani, she brings back what she describes as fresh vegetables from there. The vegetables do not grow in Panchgani town, they grow in the villages on the hilly slopes below the town, and the villageers bring them to the town's bazar to sell, more on market days but also on other days.

This time she was brought back brinjals, a basketload of them. The wife does not eat brinjals, I eat them but I do not like the way she cooks them. My idea of a good brinjal is the baingan bharata the Hyderabad way, which is as good as their mirchi ka salan, or the several ways in which the Japanese make bringals. The Japanese must be the world's champion brinjal eaters.

I also like the way the Turkish make their brinjals, but then I like all Turkish food. I recall having brijals in the old quarter of Istanbul. The dish, as all dishes in Turkey, was displayed in the window. The Turks believe in the customer seeing the food before ordering and eating it. Hence, also, the waiter brings on a large tray samples of all or most of the food that is available in the kitchen. You study it and decide what you want to eat. And, if you have language problems, it is the easiest thing in the world.

The brinjal I had in old Istanbul was two sides of it, and the entire centre was packed with aromatic minced meat. I enjoyed it very much and the following day went to eat it again. Unfortunately, I could not find the restaurant.

To come back to the wife's brinjals, since she has brought them from Panchgani, and not Mahatma Phule Market, she cooks them. And since she has brought them from Panchgani, I eat them.

Mind you, she is an outstanding cook otherwise, but not with brijals. She thinks she is making baingan bharta - she is not. Carefully, trying not to cast a slur on her cooking, I tell her that the masala is not adequate, also, in the baingan bharta, the masala is cooked in dahi. She points out a bowl of Parsi Dairy dahi she has placed on the table: "I though you would mix your own dahi with the baingan, that way you will know how much you want."

I tell her it would be more authentic if the dahi is cooked with the brinjal. That is how the khansamas of the Nizam did it. She tells me: "Dahi is never cooked, it is always mixed later."

I do not disucuss the matter further. There is no point in getting into an argument over brinjals. She has brought them from Panchgani and I will eat them.

She gives me three every night. I eat two and leave behind one. She gives me that the next morning for breakfast. There are lots of brinjals still remaining. I can see myself going through a season of brinjals.

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