Barfi has been a magical experience. In today's materialistic world when the value of everything is measured in terms of money, watching two people bound in selfless pure love is amazing. Some of the emotional scenes which could bring tears were projected in a way inciting laughter and that's what I find so fascinating about the movie. No unnecessary attempt made at moving the audience to tears, the movie pivots around the life of 'Barfi' played by Ranbir Kapoor and the mute world he lives in.
Ranbir Kapoor brought life into his character by his stellar performance, charming the audience with his effervescent cute smile, properly suited to the persona of Barfi. Priyanka too was good as Jhilmil Chatterjee, but I found her little overshadowed by Ranbir's powerpacked acting prowess, similar happening to Konkona Sen Sharma in Wake up Sid. I am very fond of Konkona and consider her as one of the very fine actresses among the current platoon of heroines, but she too looked pale before the charismatic Ranbir who with his outstanding performance stole the spotlight from her on the big screen. Ileana was looking ravishing in the movie, though I felt a little pile of flesh would have enhanced her beauty.
Shot entirely across a number of choice locations of Kolkata, Darjeeling and Purulia, the movie besides the lead actors was spangled by some of the all-time greatest side actors - Saurabh Shukla, Rupa Ganguly and the cameos thrown in by Jishu Sengupta and Haradhan Banerjee. Welded together, the movie offers sweetness, as described by my niece so beautifully, "of a slab of chocolate which long after it is melted in the mouth remains sweet in flavour."
As regards the recipe, this is going to be my second Focaccia Bread recipe after Tomato Basil Focaccia Bread. I started preparing both the breads simultaneously, but half way through I deliberated on changing the flavour a little by switching some of the key ingredients that worked miraculously in bringing two completely different breads in savour on our dinner table.
Ingredients: Cooking time: 3-4 hours approx.(including preparation and rising time)
ü 2 cups of bread flour
ü 2 tsp active dry yeast
ü 2/3 cup of water
ü 1 tsp sugar
ü 1 tsp salt
ü 1 tsp ajwain or carom seeds
ü 1 tsp fennel seeds
ü 1 tsp paprika
ü 1 tbsp olive oil
ü Few slices of eggplant (cut into half circles)
ü 1/2 of a small red onion (sliced into roundels)
ü 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
ü Cajun seasoning, taste wise
ü Olive oil for drizzling
1) Sprinkle dry yeast on the surface of 1/3 cup lukewarm water. Wait for 5 minutes before stirring it into the water. Give it a standing time of at least 10 minutes allowing teeny weeny bubbles to appear on the surface just as shown in the pic below. (Note yeast dies in too hot or too cold water. So the water yeast is soaked in should be moderately warm.)
2) Meanwhile, put together flour, sugar, salt, ajwain, fennel seeds and paprika. Make a well in between using your finger and stream in the olive oil. Add the yeast infused water and some more warm water (1/3 rd cup) to work a soft dough. The dough would be little sticky to begin with, so dust your hands with flour repeatedly while kneading and knead for about 10-15 minutes until the dough becomes supple and easily malleable.
3) Once the dough reaches the desired smoothness, shape it into round ball. Put it in an oil-greased bowl double its size. Turn the dough over once to coat it in oil. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for an hour at least. The dough must inflate to twice its size. (I usually keep the bowl inside a microwave oven during the rising process.)
4) When the dough becomes double in size, deflate it by punching your fist in it. It will release the carbon-di-oxide that the yeast reacting with sugar has created. It will thus become pliable enough to be molded into any shape.
5) On a lightly floured surface, work the dough into the desired shape by stretching it on all sides.
6) Place the dough in a lightly greased bread pan. Brush the surface with olive oil. Sprinkle cumin seeds. Cover the pan with a plastic wrap loosely and let the dough rise the second time for 30 minutes or so until double in size.
7) Meanwhile, fry the onion circles till translucent. Then cut them lengthwise. Keep aside. Toss the eggplant slices in a pinch of salt and putting them in strainer, let the bitter juices drain out into the sink.
8) Preheat the oven to 400 F/204 C. When the dough swells to twice its size, scatter the minced garlic across the surface, arrange the eggplant slices and sprinkle Cajun seasoning uniformly around. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top before putting in for bake.
9) Bake for about 30 minutes till the top is browned evenly.
10) Serve warm with a bowl of soup. Yumm.