((The DNA Newspaper doesn’t easily allow links to its articles so I have republished it here))
Students let brinjal dishes do the talking
They spoke of the crop’s diversity instead of posturing on bt debate
Malavika Velayanikal. Bangalore
How often is the brinjal celebrated? Probably, a few times since the bt brinjal started threatening to flood the Indian market. But when an artiste chose to experiment with it, the brinjal proved to be quite a creative medium. A brinjal cooking contest to celebrate India’s crop diversity — conceptualised by Zack Denfield, artiste in residence at Srishti School of Art Design & Technology — saw a slew of tasty dishes, served along with interesting information about the core ingredient, brinjal, at Jaaga, an art space in Richmond Town.
Seven students — Aratrika De, Bidisha Das, Barath Jayarajan, Karthik Illango, Kavya Satyakumar, Sachin Gupta and Sayad Nooshin — worked with Denfield on this project. They borrowed interesting recipes of traditional Indian dishes like baingan ka bharta, yennegai badanekai and badanekai thokku, and also cooked up some novel ones. “The contest idea of came with the bt brinjal debate. But then, we didn’t want to talk for or against it, but just demonstrate the crop diversity,” says Jayarajan, who was surprised to find eight varieties of brinjal in the Bangalore markets.
Initially, the plan was to use four different varieties of the vegetable in each dish. But later they decided to experiment with two kinds per dish. The guests at the contest were asked to vote on the dishes, pick the most creative, most delicious and most tastefully presented one. The recipes of all the dishes served will go into a cookbook, which Denfield would present at an art and bioscience exhibition in Spain. “The recipe book is unlike the usual ones. This one will have a detailed description of the kind of brinjal used. Like, it is pear-shaped, is purple with light stripes and so on,” Jayarajan says.
“In about five years from now, bt brinjal may be the only kind in the market and people will forget that we had such a wide variety. Our idea is to create awareness about what is about to be lost,” he adds.