Which works perfectly fine for me, because we Indians have long overcome our fear of frying. Bring on that huge kadhai (wok) of oil, and send those foods for a swim. Here is a hypothetical Indian feast illustrating the sheer variety of fried food we enjoy-
Appetizers: samosas (pastry turnovers, triangles stuffed with a spicy potatoes-and-peas mixture and deep-fried), pakodas (vegetables fried in a chickpea batter).
Main Courses: puris (puffy golden fried bread), stuffed parathas (flat-breads stuffed with cheese-vegetable fillings and griddle-fried).
Dessert: Take your pick of gulab Jamun (fried dough balls soaked in sugar syrup) or jalebi (golden rings soaked in sugar syrup).
Well, needless to say I do not cook such meals on a routine basis. Every few weeks I will make some fried dish as a treat. All the fun without the guilt. Interestingly, if frying is done right, at the correct temperature, food absorbs less oil. I don't own a food thermometer or deep fat fryer, but through sheer practice, I have more or less learnt to fry food in a regular pan and still have it not becoming too greasy.
A whole new category of fried foods that I did not cover in the listing above is street food. For my IMBB entry today, I am making a favorite Bombay street food dish, Vada Pav (literally translates as "fritter roll"). Vada pav is Bombay's answer to the ubiquitous burger, and this humble dish feeds millions of hungry people every day. Here it is, my tribute to the tenacity and spirit of Bombayites...
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed coarsely
1 onion, minced
4 green chillies, minced
1 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
5-6 curry leaves
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 tsp. turmeric
Salt to taste
- Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a pan. Add asafoetida, mustard seeds, chillies, onions, curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes till onions are transluscent.
- Add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, salt and fry for a few seconds.
- Then add mashed potatoes and fry for a couple of minutes. Let the potato mixture cool down and then it is ready to be made into fritters.
To make the fritters, make a thick batter, about the consistency of pancake batter, of
1 cup chickpea flour (besan), seasoned with salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. You can add 1/2 tsp of baking soda to make the batter fluffier.
Now make little balls of the potato mixture, dip in the batter to cover them fully and deep-fry in a couple inches of hot vegetable oil. Drain onto paper towels. Your potato fritters are ready!
Now we make some fiery garlic chutney by grinding together 3 cloves garlic, 6 dried red peppers and some salt together.
Finally, the "vada pav" is assembled by slicing some crusty chewy bread (I used hero rolls) horizontally, dabbing some garlic chutney on the bottom half, then tucking in a couple of fritters.
This is it, the heartbeat of a city in edible, portable form. Enjoy!