Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Begun pora / Roasted and mashed Eggplant ... a spicy, rustic winter favourite

Begun pora. Or fire roasted brinjal or eggplant.
Just the word pora or poda brings along with it the whiff of fire, smoke and roasting.
Along with the smell of winter nights.
Crisp, cold air. Smoke from the unoon or the chulha.
Thamma's warm, sooty, smoky kitchen.
Wood fire burning with all its might in the two big sized open unoons ... where two huge handis cook rice during the day.

Thamma would throw in sweet potatoes, potatoes into the mouth of the unoons to roast.
And winter nights would definitely see some big sized brinjals with their skins shining with a coat of mustard oil, getting roasted too.
Thamma had a small sized chulha too ... made from a steel bucket, that had three mounds made from wet earth, to sit a vessel on. On that she made rotis.

We children loved to cross the open kitchen veranda on the courtyard, shivering in the cold, push open the lightly closed door  just to soak in the warmth of her kitchen with two roaring fires and watch the sparkling splinters jump and dance around the fires.

Sometimes Thamma would call us in and hand us a piece of very hot roti, just off the chulha and torn into small parts for us.
Chewing on that small piece of roti, we would again barge out and go back into the house, crossing Dadu on the way, who would always be on the swing on the veranda ... for as long as Thamma would be in the kitchen.
Every time we crossed him, he would turn his head and smile at us and the ruckus we made. And then he would go back to gazing at the stars on the bright winter sky again.


On some days, when there would be brinjals roasting in the fire and Begun pora on the menu, if we barged into the kitchen, Thamma would sit us down and ask the help to quickly cut up onions and skin some roasted brinjals.
She would then mash them up with mustard oil, fresh coriander leaves ... a must in every winter dish ... and onions, skipping the green chillies.
And then she would feed us from that one plate of begun pora while the help flipped rotis one by one into the second plate.
There, of course, would be a story to keep us still, too.
Quietly she would send the help to inform our mothers that they are free for the evening.
Their children have had dinner ... a huge task otherwise.

These days, all that I bank on, is memories.
Dadu and Thamma are no longer around.
The house has been demolished recently.
Dad left us three months back.
And what struck me most was Didi's sudden demise last month.
She was the leader of the pack; the head of all plans of our childhood.
All adventures, picnics, plans for movies, gatherings , were started by her.
Not one to hear a no. The eldest child of the family.
My sister, friend, confidante,guide.
This year has taken so much from me that I dread facing the coming year.


I planned to make the Begun pora last weekend for lunch and not for dinner. 
I wanted to click some photos and make a post.

As anyone would know, this is an easy, fuss free dish.
All you need is some fresh, big sized brinjals /eggplants, some onions and green chillies and the all important mustard oil.
The smoky flavour of the roasted  eggplant mixed with the zing of raw mustard oil give the dish its rustic charm.

This is also known as Bengena pitika in Assamese.
Need :

Brinjals / Eggplants
Mustard oil
Chopped onions
Chopped green chillies
Fresh coriander leaves

How to :

Smear the eggplants with mustard oil and roast slowly on an open fire.

The skin should be completely charred for the insides to be cooked well.
I make sure it becomes flaky ... almost no moisture on the skin.
That not only ensures that the eggplant is well done, it also gives a distinct brown colour to the flesh  just below the skin.
(Check out the steam.)

Cool and skin it.

Mash it well with the rest of the ingredients.
Don't forget to be generous with that drizzle of raw mustard oil all over it.

Serve hot with rotis.

On another note, my hand and shoulders are acting up again.
I have been knitting a little too much recently I guess. And assume that is the culprit.
I have no idea when I'll be able to complete this sweater for B. 
Neither do I have any idea as to when I will be able to make another post next.

Till then take care dear friends.
Stay well and enjoy your holidays.


  1. Wow. Nice pictures... Feeling hungry now..

  2. Thank you for posting this wonderfully evocative recipe. Begun pora was my top childhood favourite. Not having an open flame available, I shall have to roast the eggplant in the oven and maybe place it under the grill to char the skin. In any case, I shall definitely be making begun pora this week.
    I am so sorry for all the losses you have suffered recently and for your continuing ill health. I do hope the new year will usher in a peaceful, healing time for you and wish you a happy healthy holiday. Thank you once again for your wonderful recipes and posts which I shall continue to look out for.
    All the very best,

    1. Even my Ma roasts it in the oven ... it is ok. That grill will char it well.
      Thank you for your kind words Nina.

  3. Hello,

    Mustard oil is acquired taste which I realized post marriage. But substitutes are far off.. A good mustard oil lingers on our hands long after lunch.. Mmmm. This is very similar to vange bharit that I used to love and terribly missing now.

    Just talk and talk and cry and cry. It's ok to do all of this. Even grown ups are allowed to cry on innumerable and insurmountable losses that we encounter. When we let out things, we start healing. You will heal. Just give yourself a chance.

    Take care,
    Warm regards,

    1. Yes, mustard oil is not for the uninitiated. Isn't bharit vange more close to bharwa baingan? Correct me please.
      And thank you Ash ... that's what I am doing most these days ... but I do not know if I want to heal of them.

    2. Nah.. Bharit is more of chokha n pora type.. What you are talking about is bharle vange which is bharwa baingan..

      Yes.. Sometimes we don't want to heal immediately.. We want to simmer in the sadness.. Like not allowing a wound to heal but one fine day u will get bored of that and move ahead. Best thing. Remember the memories.. Even if they make you cry.. Somewhere they are healing you.. Just don't be hard on you and try to get out of it before you want it.. Care a damn what world says.. ( m sounding more like a baba or a wellness guru rt m not either.. Before replying to you I was searching for ways to be happy n not being happy with any)

      Warm regards,

  4. I am so proud of you Sharmila.. You are doing it so very well. Begun pora is absolutely favourite...what I miss is the taste of mustard oil in it...that kaacha kaacha oil taste... I must convince my boys to try it once for me. A lovely post :)

    1. Much thanks Preeti. My efforts seem much easier with friends like you by my side.


Thank you for sharing Kichu Khonn( a few moments ) with me in my kitchen!