Thursday, July 18, 2013

Aloo Pyaaz Pakoda / Kaanda Batata Bhajia / Potato n Onion Fritters

Who doesn't love a plate of pakoda / bhajia / bhajji (a rose by any name would smell .....) with piping hot tea. Yesterday afternoon the clouds started gathering and helped to set the mood for the rains to come. It rained for no more than 20 minutes in all but that was more than enough to set the ball rolling in the kitchen for some pakodas and tea. I decided to try a mixed pakoda we ate once at a small railway station in Rajasthan early in the morning. It was actually quite simple - potato and onion pieces in besan (gram flour) with a few spices/ herbs. So tried to recreate that magic today!  
You can try this pakoda with different vegetable combinations like: onion-potato-capsicum, onion-capsicum-cabbage, onion-spinach, onion-potato-cauliflower, etc. Go ahead create more pairings, use carrots, beans, peas, spinach / palak, methi / fenugreek leaves, zucchini, colorful bell peppers, water chestnuts for crunch.... The combinations are endless, let your taste and imagination lead you on this trip. Chop the veges real fine and the children will also happily gobble them up.
For us, this pakoda made its mark on one of our trips in Rajasthan when we travelled by train in the sleeper class. I mention sleeper class because it was a night journey in the winter and you are exposed to whatever temperature goes outside or maybe colder. Now, we had not realized how cold it gets in a train and had not carried blankets and stuff that we saw with other passengers. So once inside, we piled on as many layers (read 2 t-shirts and a sweater, a jeans and a sweat pant and 2 socks on me!) and lay down to catch a few winks. After tossing and turning the whole night we woke up at 6am hoping to get some hot tea and biscuits to alleviate a little of the teeth chattering cold. We passed through many small sleepy stations but not much stirred that early. At about 7am we stopped at this small station where one sole vendor had started selling pakodas and tea so we quickly got off and bought some. It was a beautiful sight, the sun was not out completely, there was a light fog, the platform was empty other than this vendor with a handful of people hovering around him. Now, fried stuff is not something we have ever had for breakfast but that cold morning it seemed like maana from heaven.

Aloo Pyaaz Pakoda / Kaanda Batata Bhajia / Potato n Onion Fritters
Besan/ Gram flour - 1.5cups
Alu/ Potato - 1 small finely chopped
Pyaaz/ Onion - 2 medium finely chopped
Haldi/ Turmeric pwd - 1/4 tsp
Mirchi/ Red Chili pwd - 1/2 tsp
Dhania/ Coriander seeds crushed/ pwdr - 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves chopped - 1/2tsp
Green chilli - 1 deseeded and chopped
Soda - 1 pinch (optional)
Salt to taste
Water - little to make batter
Oil for frying
Start by taking a mixing bowl and put in the chopped onions, chopped potatoes, turmeric, chili powder, crushed coriander seeds and salt. Mix this well, slightly crushing the potato and onions with the back of the spoon. This will release some water from them.
I prefer adding very little water because the onion releases water and our mix could become watery. Aim to get a batter that is of dropping consistency with a little coaxing. Add 1tbsp at a time and mix well to form a thick batter of dropping consistency. Now add the chopped coriander leaves and the green chili. I deseeded the chili because it is added more for flavor than heat. You can add a pinch of soda to make the bhajia light and crispy. Heat some oil in a kadai / pan for deep frying the pakodas. Once the oil is hot take a teaspoon of this hot oil and add to the batter and mix well. I have been told that it makes the pakoda crisp and it does not absorb much oil.
You can test if the oil is of right temperature by dropping a bit of the batter into the oil, if it rises to the top then we are ready to start our frying. Now drop spoonful's of the mix into the hot oil. Don't crowd the pakodas in the oil let them be submerged and have space around them. Once you have dropped all the pakodas you can, lower the gas heat to let the pakodas cook, else you will have crisp outside and wet and uncooked inside.
Turn the pakodas / bhajias to cook evenly on all sides. Cook until the pakodas / bhajias are golden in color. Then scoop them with a slotted spoon and hold the spoon above the kadai till as much oil is drained. Drop them onto a tissue lined platter and they are ready to be served.

Serve them with tomato ketchup and tomato chili sauce and a mug of hot chai / chaa / tea.
Most of us have a story around pakodas and chai so go ahead reminisce and have a nice time. Enjoy!!!

My Aloo Pyaaz Pakoda goes to
- C'mon chefs cook up some hosted by cookclickndevour

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