The whatsapp had been going off non-stop with first the news about Jayalalitha’s death and then about controversy theories about her death and then the cyclone. Amidst this mayhem there were these messages –
“You are looking so beautiful Ma’am”
“You are so sweet, Ma’am ”
“Your handwriting is too good”
“Please be safe Ma’am.”
No, these were not students. These were mommies falling over each other in being sugary sweet to their kindergarten kid’s teacher.
I cringed. But then I laughed. I remembered that Jagan by a strange twist of events was part of that mommy-teacher watsapp group and was witness to these exchanges. I imagined how these converstions would look juxtaposed with car mileage/gearbox debates, porn pictures and topic –less but expletive filled ribbing.
As expected, he was traumatized by these mommy exchanges and asked me if women talk this way all the time. Poor guy. I suggested he take a combiflam and exit the group.
Mommies, really? Really? Do you really have to?
I wanted to tell Yuvi that he was out on his tiny ass.
Don’t expect sweet nothing texts from me – “Yes Ma’am, okay Ma’am, I love you Ma’am, I miss you Ma’am” because your number work is untidy, because I would like you to speak in the assembly. I know I am not setting it up for you to be the teacher’s favourite in school, the sweet mommy’s boy who teachers will remember from the top of their mind when it comes to choosing the house prefect, choosing the one to give the school address. I am not giving you a step up. I am not giving you privilege. I am sorry. I can’t bring myself to. I know how much I hated those teacher’s favourites in school. Plus I am simply un-equipped for being that sweet.
I did not tell Yuvi as much. I suspect he may share it with his sweet, beautiful teacher with good handwriting. We were eating eggplant parmigiana for lunch, Yuvi and I. He slurped the pasta noodle in.
Do you like it?
He made a sign with his hand to say it was.
Spaghetti pasta in marinara sauce wasn’t one of his favourites.
“Yes, it is. Very nice, but little bit not nice.”
I smiled. I realized he wasn’t going to be any better than me in lying.
But unlike Yuvi, if marinara sauce, parmesan and pasta are your thing, then you simply won’t be able to resist this eggplant parmigiana. I am one. Hasini is another. Between the two of us, we polished off the leftovers during the last few days watching the rain outside. I ate Eggplant Parmigian at Olive garden in the US earlier this year. I have been waiting ever since to recreate this at home. I am happy with the results. I might do a double coating of bread-crumbs and parmesan next time around for an extra thick extra crispy exterior. I followed no recipe. I went by what I remembered I tasted that day. Here it is.
- Spaghetti pasta – 250 gm
- Tomatoes – 6 large ripe ones, blanched, peeled and pureed
- Yellow Onion – 1 small minced (regular onion would do if you can’t find yellow)
- Garlic – 2 cloves peeled and minced
- Butter – 2 tbsp
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Mushrooms – 300 gms chopped
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper powder – 1 tsp (adjust)
- Paprika powder – 1 tsp
- Oregano – 1 tsp
- Fresh or dry basil – 2 tsp
- Grated Parmesan cheese – 2-3 tbsp for topping
- Parsley – 1 tbsp chopped for garnishing
- Eggplants – 1 large or 3 smaller sized ones sliced into rounds
- Cornflour – 5 tbsp dissolved in a little water to make a slurry
- Bread crumbs – 2 cups
- Parmesan cheese – 1-1/2 cups grated
- Olive oil – ¾ cup for shallow frying the eggplants
- 1. Boil tomatoes in water till the skin peels away at places. Switch off. Cool, peel and discard the skin and puree the boiled tomatoes.
- 2. To a saucepan add butter and olive oil. When the butter-oil mixture is hot, add the minced onions and garlic and saute till soft and translucent. Dump the chopped mushrooms and stir from time to time until all the water has evaporated and the mushrooms have shrunk in volume.
- 3. Pour in the tomato puree and stir well. Add about half a cup of water. Add salt, black pepper powder, paprika powder and oregano and stir well. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Cook on low heat for about 8 minutes or till the flavours have mingled and the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add basil. Switch off.
- 4. Cook pasta in plenty of salted water till al-dente. Drain the water, mix in some butter. Set aside.
- 5. Slice up the eggplants into thickish rounds and keep them immersed in water.
- 6. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in a shallow plate. Set aside.
- 7. Heat a fry pan and pour in olive oil.
- 8. While the oil is heating up, dip each slice of eggplant into the cornflour slurry and then into the breadcrumbs-parmesan mixture to coat on both sides.
- 9. Gently place these eggplants in the fry pan and shallow fry till both sides of the eggplants are golden brown and crisp.
- 10. To serve, pile on some pasta, ladle marinara sauce and top with grated parmesan and chopped parsley. Arrange the fried eggplant slices alongside. Dig in. Enjoy!