The 5 of us were living together during the winter of 1999 at Rutgers University. One of those girls was and still is my best friend, Jhiane. She was without a roomie, but not for long. In came this girl at 5’4″, pretty, with straight and bouncy hair. I hadn’t met her yet, but Jhiane told me that she was really trendy and I should talk to her, she’s of Indian origin, I am of Indian origin, so we would have something in common. As soon as Jhiane said, “she dresses trendy”, I was like, “How is she trendy? What does she wear?” Jhiane took me over to this girl’s closet and we saw a couple of tight jeans hanging along with like 20 tank tops. LOL! I know, we were both soooooooo wrong to have done that, but we were young and immature. As soon as I saw her clothes, I was like, “OMG, an Indian girl who dresses like that? There is no way I’ll connect with her.” You see, if you knew me in high school or college, you would have perceived me to be very sheltered, a prude, and judgmental. In short, I judged a book by its cover and I was wrong to have done that.
Well, eventually that girl broke the ice with me and was super nice. I had a hard time believing someone could be nice, pretty, trendy, and sweet all at the same time. She was so sweet that she even offered me her tank tops to borrow. LOL! However, I politely declined, for I only wore jeans and flannels at Rutgers and nothing else could possibly get in the way of that.
The girl who I am talking about is none other than my best friend, Anu. It’s because of her mom I have a clue about South Indian cooking, and so often enjoy her delicacies. It’s quite ironic that in college Anu would be the one asking me for food… oh yes! I would go home every single weekend and get delicious homemade food from my mom; you know how precious homemade food is in college, right? Well, whenever we’d be hanging out, Anu would never fail to ask me if I had any food from home. SIGH! I would get so annoyed when she’d ask me, yet I’d reluctantly bring out my Indian subzis and big Punjabi parathas for us to share. I soon realized that Anu would ask me for food quite often, and I can’t believe I’m admitting to this on my site, but I sometimes lied and said, “no, my mom didn’t give me any food this weekend,” because I so valued homemade food in college. Part of the reason I wouldn’t share with her is because she had an appetite and she’d finish most of it. What did you expect? Now, only if I knew her mom was such an excellent cook, and that I’d be eating at her mom’s home soooooooo often, I would have been less selfish.
Now eleven years later, I am definitely the trendy one. 🙂 I know she’ll be like, “WHATEVER!” All jokes aside, I am so glad that the girl whom I so easily judged made the effort to know the real me. She could have easily judged me and thought, hmmm… too judgmental, but she obviously saw something in me. So, Anu if you are reading this, sorry for not always sharing my food with you, but I promise to make you whatever your heart desires the next time I see you. 🙂 This is my way of making it up to you.
What have I learned? Never judge a book by its cover, or I may have passed up on a really great story between two friends.
And now I leave you with Venkaya Vepudu / Baingan Fry / Brinjal Fry South Indian style. I came up with this recipe based on the basics of South Indian cooking that I learned from Anu’s mom. If I had to do this over though, I’d chop the brinjals and onions instead of slicing them. Enjoy!
TELL ME: Have you been judgmental towards someone who turned out to be an important person in your life?
NUTRITION: Brinjals are a very good source of Fiber and Vitamin B1.
- Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Black Gram Seeds (Urad Dal) – 2 tsp
- Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Curry Leaves – 8 to 10
- Green Chilies – 2 (sliced)
- Garlic – 2 cloves (chopped)
- Red Onion – 1 medium (sliced… chopping is better)
- Brinjals – 10 (sliced… chopping is better)
- Red Chili Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Coriander Powder – 2 tsp
- Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
- salt to taste
1. Begin by slicing/chopping the onion. Slice the green chilies and chop the garlic.
2. Set aside your curry leaves.
3. Heat a pan on medium heat, add oil, once hot, add mustard seeds and once they sizzle…
4. Add black gram seeds (urad dal). Once they sizzle…
5. Add cumin seeds.
6. Add turmeric powder.
7. Cook for 10 seconds or so.
8. Add the green chilies, garlic, and curry leaves. Saute for about 15.
9. Add the onion and season with salt.
10. Allow this to cook for 5 minutes on low heat (dial #3).
11. In the meantime, slice/chop your brinjals as follows:
12. This is how the onions should look… golden.
13. Add the brinjals.
14. Top off with red chili powder, coriander powder, and salt.
15. Combine and cook for 3 minutes.
16. Cover and cook for 25 minutes on low heat (dial #3).
17. This is what you should have after 25 minutes.
18. Adjust salt. Add garam masala. Combine and turn off the stove.
19. This goes perfectly well with a nice bowl of warm white rice! Naan/Roti will work too. 🙂 VERDICT??