A Bank Robbery and ‘Begun Bhaja’

Grilled Eggplant


“That guy at the counter has a gun. He is robbing us.”

As I sat across the Assistant Bank Manager in her office that was an enclosed glass structure, negotiating on interest rates and going over various policy potentials, I heard a commotion behind me, in the common area just outside of her office. Donna, the banker, looked up too, and I saw a her smooth forehead form a few furrows. Following her gaze, I swiveled my chair slightly and looked over my shoulder. I noticed a teller talking to a customer. Another teller pottering around behind the teller’s window. Shrugging, I turned back and went back to my perusal of spread out documents in front of me.

Donna excused herself and stepped out. She was back almost immediately. “Don’t Move!” she whispered urgently, her harsh tone sending warning bells jingling down my spine. “That guy at the counter has a gun. He is robbing us.”




Now, I envisioned myself galvanized into action, reach the man in a flash, and unman him of his gun in a very stylish fashion. Become a hero, you know. TV lights flashing in my face, reporters in suave high neck polos and coiffed hair shoving microphones at me, wanting to know how I felt rescuing the bank.   (You see, according to the reporters, you are always supposed to process how you ‘feel’ when something happens to/around you and then file it away at some corner of your brain to recount those feelings at a later appropriate time.)

I did nothing of the sort. I kept sitting, and looked over my shoulder, not even moving my chair this time. The guy wore a high neck jacket that concealed much of his neck and the hair at the nape. A white cap covered the rest of his head. I turned around and kept sitting, the whole scenario still feeling a bit fantastic to me. If he turned, I would be in his direct vision. And a potential victim of a direct hit were he to discharge his gun.


Grilled Eggplant


Shudder. The remanant feeling of heroism just vanished through the shuttered window of Donna’s office.

Then he was gone. All this happened in three minutes, or less. The police came in almost immediately after. From what I gathered, the police might have delayed their entry by a few crucial moments to avoid a potential hostage situation. Wow! I never looked at delayed police arrival from that standpoint. They took my statement, and left. We went back to business as usual in minutes. The man was apprehended within the next 24 hours.

That day, my insides stayed mushy almost through the entire day. A weird kind of mushy.Not at all like the mushiness of this melt in the mouth eggplant recipe, that is succulent and soft.





Eggplant is called ‘Begun’ (the u is pronounced like that of toon). ‘Bhaja’ means fried. It is an accompaniment for dal and rice in a multiple course meal of a typical Bengali family. Normally, it is deep fried in a lot of oil, which makes it quite unhealthy to eat on a regular basis. My Aunt taught me to add sugar to marinade the eggplant before frying. It prevents the eggplant from soaking in oil, and also makes it taste better. I agree with her wholeheartedly.

I prefer to pan grill it in Oil spray. Non stick helps. And slow fry it to ensure even cooking on both sides.


Marinade the Eggplant in turmeric, salt, sugar, and red chili powder.


Fried eggplant


Coat a non stick pan with Pam oil spray, and fry the eggplant till done.


roasting eggplant


Grilled eggplant

5.0 from 5 reviews
'Begun Bhaja' - Pan Grilled eggplant
Cuisine: Indian
  • 1 medium sized eggplant sliced into ½" thick slices and cut each slice into halves.
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Oil spray for frying
  1. Marinade the eggplant with all the ingredients and keep it for 10 minutes. (Any more and the eggplant will start oxidizing).
  2. Coat a Non stick frying pan with Oil spray generously.
  3. Fry the eggplant on slow flame, each side for about 10 minutes.
  4. Spray the eggplant with more oil if required.
Note: This tastes good when hot. These are easy to re-heat on pan or oven.


19 comments for “A Bank Robbery and ‘Begun Bhaja’

  1. April 12, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    The eggplant looks wonderful, Minnie! My mouth watered all the way through the recipe, but the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up all the way through the bank robbery! Great story – wow!
    Stephanie @ It’s not just about the recipe . . . . recently posted..What to do on a snow day . . . in April!My Profile

    • April 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Thanks so much Stephanie!! This eggplant recipe is my fav to, and I promise you will love it.

  2. April 12, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Ha minnie the hero.. my god i cud visualise u through out your experience eh

    and this begun baja we make it deep fried minus the turmeric

    think next time wud try this way
    meena recently posted..Easy bread pizzaMy Profile

    • April 13, 2013 at 9:33 AM

      Lol!! Thanks Meena 🙂 The real version calls for deep fry too, and I deep fry it when the time is short or I don’t have non-stick on hand. I love begun bhaja (my entire family – both Ma and in law can testify to that, hahaha!!) so I prefer this leaner version to save my poor self from gorging on the dripping fat.

  3. Anuradha
    April 13, 2013 at 12:25 AM

    I have one quick question… I don’t like the eggplant being soft… I like it when it’s crispy, but don’t want to use extra oil… So, do we add cornflour to it and make it little more crispy or oil is the only choice 😛

    • April 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      You can use the cornflour, but the taste will be different. I like my exterior to be crispy as well. What I do is to leave it on non-stick on a very low flame for 20 minutes or so. Just leave it half covered. Turn it over when one side is crispy enough for your taste. It gets toasty and crispy and delicious. Try it this way.

  4. April 13, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    What a terrifying ordeal. I’m so glad you sat still and turned around.

    I’ve never had eggplant cooked this way but it sounds so good. I’ll have the soft ones that Anuradha doesn’t like. 🙂
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted..Best Fluffy, Flakey, Buttery Biscuits EverMy Profile

    • April 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      This is a good one Maureen. Try it, I promise you won’t have eggplant in any other way without thinking about this version 🙂

  5. Shantanu Bagchi
    April 13, 2013 at 1:58 AM

    One of the best bengali dish and a must at our home when its niramish khawa. 🙂 Nothing beats to have this with chapatis or parathas. Heavenly!!

    • April 13, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      Oh yesssssss!!!! I SO agree 😀 😀 Thanks Shantanu 🙂

  6. April 13, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Are you serious? Did it really happened? So scary! You see it in movies, but you’re never ready for it. You were a clever person that you did not act.
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today recently posted..Fried mozzarella with champignons on toastMy Profile

    • April 13, 2013 at 10:48 PM

      Unfortunately it actually did. This was a few years ago, in Rhode Island. I don’t think it was clever though, paralyzing was more like it, lol! I guess if someone was in true danger, then I might – might – have reacted differently. I am just glad that there were no kids there that day.
      Minnie recently posted..A Bank Robbery and ‘Begun Bhaja’My Profile

  7. April 14, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    What a tale, Minnie! Thank heavens no one was harmed! And though you didn’t tackle him and save the day, you maintained control in an impossibly stressful situation. That’s heroic enough for me.
    Great dish and tip about using sugar to prevent the eggplant from soaking up the oil. This would be a welcome change fromt he breaded & fried eggplant slices that we serve so often. Thanks for sharing your ordeal and recipe with us.
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Sauce in the Style of BolognaMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:12 PM

      Thank you John!! t’s terribly sweet of you to say that 🙂

  8. April 14, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    eggplant is my favorie vegetable. love the prep. i can just eat it like this.
    Kitchen Queen recently posted..Bharwan Karela / Stuffed Bitter gourdMy Profile

    • April 18, 2013 at 12:13 PM

      Thanks you so much!!

  9. April 23, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    so, you actually saw a bank robbery, wow! i don’t think i ever witnessed any crime in my entire life, damn!

    even though i don’t like begun bhaja, i was dying to read this post only for the bank robbery story.

  10. November 1, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    Before I write scrolls on how delicious ur begun bhaja looks a question that is lingering on my mind for so long- how to u manage to get into such unique situations every time. I mean it takes people lifetime to even fall into such a situation heaven forbid :). But reading ur blog is like finding a treasure trove of experience which apparently seem funny because of the way u narrate but I have complete empathy with u when the things actually happened. U kind of remind me of Nabanita debsen’s writings :). Now onto begun bhaja… Well I can’t have khihuri unless I have my begun bhaja on the side. I love begun like crazy and hubby dear hates it like anything. Of course he wins hence like the ad goes I always hide the begun in any macher jhol or torkari I prepare 🙂 lovely tempting pics. I want one nowww!
    Barnali recently posted..Sahi Tukda (Royal Toast) on MahastamiMy Profile

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