The discovery of deep frying

I’d not realized how hard it is to photograph food while it is cooking. There was something satisfying about taking photos of brinjal (Aubergine, egg plant, use your favourite synonym) as it is frying in a pan. The brown, black, and purple colour palette reminded me of the tortured paintings of Goya, reflected in the spilled guts of the fried brinjal.

But why a post about deep frying, you ask? Well, after weeks of being locked away at home, I was dying to eat something different. There was a large brinjal on the kitchen counter, which reminded me of deep fried Bengali brinjal. So I decided to adapt it to an experimental low-oil cooking method. I cut it into thin rounds, and then heated a tea spoon of oil in a non-stick pan. I put in three disks of brinjal, and they soaked up the oil immediately. The idea that I was trying to bootstrap is that they would release the oil after they were done, and I could put in more of the vegetable then, and cook it in the same oil. As you can see from the photos, this process could continue until I had the whole baingan fried. The Family pronounced this a success. “Unfortunately, you can’t make puri this way,” she told me.


Contemporary Chinese food

I visited an old friend, The Pleased, now living in Shanghai and went out for lunch. She’d picked a restaurant in the French Concession: very chic, all daylight filtered through bamboo groves and undressed concrete walls. After a week of large dinners, I was ready for the modern China. It is different. Take the dish above: not a chocolatey dessert. It is smoked eggplant, with bacon shavings on top. I liked the presentation. The taste is familiar to any Indian who has eaten baingan bharta, but the smoky tone of the original is no longer available in most restauarants in Mumbai. This was very definitely smoky. The black bean sauce was a good addition. I liked the way the pungent taste exploded in the mouth.

The restaurant was a nice introduction to the new China. I’d only seen its art work till now. This lunch introduced me to its food. I’m sure I want to explore more of this.