Bhajiya, Pakoda, Fritters – Deep Fried Deliciousness
Anything dipped in a batter and deep fried seems to reach some primal glutton within us all, in nearly every culture across the world. There are pakodas on the Indian subcontinent, Tempura in Japan, Gorengan of all sorts in Indonesia, and some of the things they deep fry in the heart of America, it could clog your arteries just reading about them (Read The Most Ridiculous Deep Fried Foods if you dare).
Deep fried, crispy, golden bits of delciousness are best dreamt about for most of the year and eaten in moderation once in a long while. And the Monsoon, with its rainy afternoons, cool evenings, lush green wetness everywhere, is the best time to indulge.
‘Enjoy with as little guilt as you can manage because sometimes, it’s alright to give in.’
Each part of India has a different style of deep fried snack food but the batters are almost always made with besan (Gram flour). The Bengalis have a beautiful, lightly fried, barely battered, rock salt seasoned eggplant fritter called Begun bhaja. In Bihar, they make an Agast ka Phool ka bachka which it took some research to figure out was very similar to Zucchini flower fritters. Some even use pumpkin flowers. Over on the west coast, onions, cauliflower, chillies and the perennial favorite potatoes all get chopped up and dipped in spiced batters to make wonderful bhajiyas. Down south, the batter gets thicker and the list of vegetables, a little shorter. A highlight is the Parippu Vada from Kerala. This Vada, deliciously shot through with sweet onions, doesn’t involve dipping and covering a vegetable in a batter. The batter itself, made of various daals is shaped into discs and deep fried. The Sindhis have a way with fried foods with a sinful, secret method making their pakodas sensational. Juhi Aunty, a treasure trove of Sindhi recipes, shared two recipes that we’ve had the pleasure of trying and when it comes to Monsoon and chai accompaniments, these are hard to go wrong with. Sano Pakodo and Tuk, both use the secret Sindhi method and are easy to whip up. Give this a shot this evening – Sit by a rainy window with a steaming cup of tea, some spicy green chutney, or even some Sambal to dip these into, and enjoy them hot and crispy.
250 grams Besan
2 Green chilis, finely chopped
2 tsp anardana
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 – 2 tsp Coriander seeds
Salt and Red chili powder to taste
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients and add the slightest bit of water, maybe a tablespoon. The batter should be thick. Most of the batter’s liquidity will come from the moisture in the onions. Juhi Aunty’s trick to whisking the batter is using her fingers, slightly spread, and whisking fast. And here’s the Sindhi trick to delicious pakodas – Deep Fry. TWICE!
Heat enough oil in a large kadhai to deep fry. Use a small rounded spoon to drop batter into the hot oil. Cook these till they’re just starting to turn golden. Use a slotted spoon to drain the pakodas and lay them on some kitchen paper to blot. And then pop them in the hot oil one more time, frying them to a crisp.
4 large Potatoes, halved lengthwise.
To taste – Salt, Turmeric, Chili powder, Amchur, Coriander powder
250 ml Oil for deep frying.
Heat 250 ml oil in a non stick wok/kadhai. Each potato half needs to be scored deeply with a criss cross pattern. Add the potatoes to the hot oil, turn down the heat and cook till potatoes turn pink.
Remove with a slotted spoon onto some kitchen paper and flatten each potato with the back of a spoon or with your hand if you can handle the hot oil on your skin. Add these flattened potatoes back to the oil for a few more minutes till the color deepens slightly. Remove from the oil or if you’re brave, pour out the oil from the pan. If you’ve removed the potatoes, add them to another hot greased pan. Toss the potatoes with spices – a pinch of salt to taste, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of chili, a big pinch of amchur, a small pinch of coriander powder at the end. Keep tossing as you add spices.
Note: If you really can’t handle the double deep frying, go ahead with the traditional one dip. It’ll probably be almost as delicious.
Enjoy with as little guilt as you can manage because sometimes, it’s alright to give in.