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Cheese chicken curry

WHAT WOULD you expect if you heard names like Slim Jim, Purple Thick or Naples Early? To one, it sounds as if they were some terms out of a gym or maybe a boxing king. Actually, they are names of different brinjals. The brinjal is known by different names - aubergine in French, badinjan in Arabic and of course, eggplants. The last name comes from the fact that some are small and oval. Much liked and disliked this vegetable seems to bring an opinion to everyone's mind. Some people feel it is a poor man's meal while others like Birbal eulogised it as the only vegetable that wore a `Taj' or a crown.

Brinjals are much cherished in the Middle East and normally meat-eating Arabs are very fond of it. In Turkey, it is said there lived an Imam who said he would eat only vegetables. So his Chef made him a dish of eggplant. He was so amazed with the same that he fainted. The dish was named Imam biyaldi meaning the Imam fainted.

Other world-famous dishes include the meat and brinjal preparation of moussaka and of course, the ratatouille. India of course, which is said to be the home of this delicious vegetable has many a preparation made out of it. From the North comes baingan bhurta (Believed to be Anil Kapoor's favourite dish), the spicy ennai kathrika from TamilNadu, bharleli vangi from Maharashtra and the famous bagare baingan.

Different types of chutneys are also made. In a village small brinjals were cooked over coal. Then they were wiped clean of all the black spots. The skin was not removed. In a pan, a few green chillies, deseeded tamarind, a little jeera and garlic are dry roasted along with curry leaves. Then all the ingredients were ground together to make a nice, tangy chutney which was eaten with chapattis. Another very simple side dish is cartwheels. Take large brinjals, cut into round slices and put them in water with a hint of vinegar. Then remove, press dry. Marinate with a dry dusting of flour mixed with salt, chilli powder and ajwain. On a flat tawa or pan put a little bit of oil and fry on either side till crisp. It is a great side dish when the meal is simple like dal and rice.

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