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Bread Pakora !! The Queen of Street Food

By: Toothless Posted Feb 06, 2015 General 1030 Views
(Updated Feb 07, 2015 03:21 AM)

The past week saw me busier than a beaver and more determined than a bee. I scuttled from work to gym to home and back to work through an endless ring of fire and about 2 days ago I decided that I must give up one of the three for a brief period of time to discharge my batteries and unwind a bit – it was gym of course. Folks who have read my posts know that I am the sort who for the most part would sit on a couch and watch TV as long as the hole in the couch does not grow bigger than my bottom and swallows me. That’s how lazy I can get, however there are times when the soul of Remmi from Ratatouille gets inside me and I begin cooking.

Day before yesterday I made samosas and they came out well. Although I enjoy deep fried food, I do avoid them as much as possible as one of the biggest problems with deep frying anything is the trail of mess that is left behind – A huge wok with an equally huge amount of left over oil, smoke that triggers the fire alarm, oily smell, burning eyes(especially in the US as the windows are rarely opened) and enough utensils to keep a small navy busy for a night. But that is the equilibrium or balance of life – Kuch paane liye kuch khona padta hai And Kuch khaane ke liye kuch dhona padta hai.

So yesterday I had a wok with left over oil and I was in a mood to cook again and this will be the last time I will use this oil before discarding it and I wanted as much of the oil consumed as possible – I decided to cook something special and very delicious; which in the modern world where beauty is measured by the waist size(preferable in single digits) would mean something very oily and very unhealthy. And what could consume more oil than an Ambassador car? The answer is BREAD PAKORA.

The pakora is indigenous to the subcontinent, I can vouch for it. In the US, I have had the opportunity to eat deep fried food from many parts of the world and they differ from the pakora mainly because the international fried food either have no coating or use a bread crumb+ flour(maida) coating. The coating is usually called breading and it can be seen in Italian food – such as the eggplant parmesan where the slices of eggplant(or brinjal) are dipped in a batter of all-purpose flour and then sprinkled with dried bread crumbs before deep frying. The pakora also uses some Indian spices which makes the dish unique. As far as the bread pakora is concerned, I would like to think that it is more of a modern invention compared to the other types of pakoras and it is also something that has more versions than Microsoft Windows. While I was in Delhi I tasted about 5 different versions if my memory serves me right and although I was tempted to make one with Paneer as the filling, I had to reconcile to my destiny and make do with what was available in the kitchen. My version has a potato+ mint chutney filling.

So here is what you need to make this one of kind Indian street delicacy.

1.     White bread

2.     Gram Flour(besan)

3.     Salt

4.     Green chili and red chili powder

5.     Carrom seeds(ajwain)

6.     Coriander seeds

7.     Cumin seeds( jeera)

8.     Mint leaves

9.     Potatoes

10.     Baking soda( optional)

11.     Pomegranate seeds(Anardana)

The Chutney

The mint chutney is an easy preparation – just clean the mint leaves and throw them in a blender with salt, some green chilies pomegranate seeds and little bit of coriander leaves. Blend this into a smooth paste – add water if needed but make sure the chutney is in good consistency. Once the chutney is done, you may add some yogurt to it(optional of course)

The Batter

Batter requires gram flour, water a table spoon of oil salt, carom seeds, red chili powder and some finely chopped coriander leaves. The batter should be a bit on the thicker side as it is required to hold the bread together. You may add some Turmeric( Haldi) to bring the golden color.

The stuffing

Have a table spoon of oil in a hot wok, add – Cumin seeds and crushed coriander seeds with some chopped green chilies and crushed boiled potatoes. It should not take very long to cook this. Do add salt and taste this stuffing to make sure the salt and spice is strong enough as it will abate once the stuffing is inside the bread in the frying pan. A dash of lemon juice on the potato stuffing can give a nice tangy flavor.

The Pakora.

In my version I spread some potato filling and some mint chutney on the bread slice, cover it with another bread slice to make a sandwich of sorts. Following this, I cut the sandwich in triangles which is typical of bread pakora and dip it in the batter. The dipping should be done quickly but carefully and the most important part is the deep frying which is also the most dangerous part. Please keep a safe distance from the hot oil. Oil can splatter when the bread is slid into it and if this hot oil were to come in contact with human skin, it can cause major burns.

So finally we have India’s favorite snack ready, a delicious and indulging food that is as crisp and beautiful as the people often found eating it - especially outside the LSR girls college(where my friends and I made regular visits - for obvious reasons). The iconic yet humble bread pakora is also a major boost to the morale of the medical community as it has secretly fostered the sale of Asprin and other heart medication without wanting a reward or a kickback. In any case, when I eat this queen of street food, I forget that I have a heart and listen to the music strum by my tongue.

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