Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Neem Pata Begun Bhaja / Bengali Style Stir Fried Neem Leaves with Eggplant

During winter we Bengalis indulge ourselves with this special preparation, fried crispy neem leaves with soft and pulpy fried eggplants. Fret not...as this weird combination which is equally weird in its taste is treated with special care. We normally use reddish baby neem leaves and it’s awfully bitter taste is this recipe’s signature style. Neem Begun Bhaja is something which is equally hated and loved by different generations.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures

The younger generation tends to hate the addition of neem but the more adult ones had already realized that the aftertaste matters. And that is the reason that suddenly, after maintaining a decade of hateful relationship with neem pata begun bhaja I suddenly started craving for it when my mother was nowhere near to prepare it for me.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Moderately heat the mustard oil on medium flame.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Add the neem leaves to the oil.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Fry the neem leaves until they are crispy. 

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Add the cubed eggplants and more oil. Alternatively, fry the eggplant seperately with a little salt and turmeric and add them to the crispy neem leaves. Saute and the dish is complete.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Add turmeric powder.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Add salt and cover to cook the eggplants.

how to make Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali style stir fried Neem leaves with eggplant recipe and preparation with step by step pictures
  • Drizzle more oil so that the eggplants remain soft and mushy. When the eggplants are cooked, switch off the flame.

Neem Begun Bhaja / Bengali Stir fried Neem Leaves with Eggplant
Serves 4

Ingredients:
A bunch of baby neem leaves
½ of a medium eggplant – cut into small cubes
2 tbsp pure virgin mustard oil (add more if required)
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt

Method:
Pluck the neem leaves from the stem and wash them under cold water. Rub them while washing to rinse off any kind of dirt and soil.
First process:
(Use this process if you don't want to use too much oil.)
Heat the mustard oil in a kadai and add the washed leaves into the oil.
Fry them on medium flame until they become crisp.
Now add the cubed eggplants and sprinkle the turmeric powder over them.
Add salt and drizzle some more oil.
Stir to mix and cover to let them cook.
After 2-3 minutes open the cover and give a nice good stir.
Since the eggplants are cut into small cubes they will take only a minute very to cook. If not then cook until they are tender.

Alternate process:
You can fry the eggplants (with a little salt and turmeric and enough oil to keep them moist) before adding them to the fried neem leaves. This is the method followed generally and the one I like more. Mix and stir the eggplants with the neem leaves for a minute and switch off the flame.

Serve with simple plain rice. 
Note: Eat Neem Begun Bhaja only in the lunch.

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