Somebody once said that eating these patties is a direct blow to the heart, which, like other Mumbaikars, I take to mean the sheer love they inspire. The fritters or balls of crushed spiced potato are dipped in chickpea batter and deep-fried, then served in soft bread rolls with hot garlic chutney. However, the patties can also be served just as they are, or with hot poories, or even in a toasted sandwich. Mumbaikars love them with cheese!
MAKES ABOUT 15
GROUND TURMERIC 1 teaspoon
FLOURY POTATOES 2–3 medium, roughly cubed
SUNFLOWER OR EXTRA VIRGIN RAPESEED
OIL 2 tablespoons, plus extra for deep-frying
BLACK MUSTARD SEEDS 1 heaped tablespoon
CUMIN SEEDS 1 teaspoon
WHITE LENTILS (URAD DAAL) OR YELLOW
SPLIT PEAS (CHANNA DAAL) 2 tablespoons
FRESH ROOT GINGER 7.5cm (3in) piece,
peeled and chopped
FRESH GREEN CHILLIES 2 finger-type, chopped
CURRY LEAVES 10–15, preferably fresh, shredded;
if using dried, soak in water for 10–12 minutes,
and dry thoroughly before shredding
ONION 1 small, chopped
CHOPPED FRESH CORIANDER 1 tablespoon
CHICKPEA (GRAM) FLOUR 150–200g (5½–7oz)
FOR THE GARLIC CHUTNEY
GARLIC 10–12 cloves
DRIED RED CHILLIES 2–4, deseeded
CUMIN SEEDS 2 teaspoons
SKINNED AND ROASTED PEANUTS OR CANNED
OR COOKED CHICKPEAS 2 tablespoons
LIME JUICE to taste
EXTRA VIRGIN RAPESEED OIL (optional)
SOFT BREAD ROLLS
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. When boiling, add some salt, the
turmeric and the potatoes, and cook for about 8–10 minutes, until tender.
Drain well, then return the potatoes to the pan and place them over a low
heat, stirring with a wooden spatula from the bottom up until they look dry,
slightly crushed and fluffy. Spread them out on a tray and set aside to cool.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pan until you see a heat haze.
Add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid until they crackle and release a
nutty aroma (this takes just a few seconds). Quickly add the cumin seeds and
lentils, lower the heat slightly and let them brown just a little. Immediately
add the ginger, chillies and curry leaves and sauté for 30 seconds or so,
then add the onion. Cook until translucent, then tip in the cooled potatoes,
scraping the pan thoroughly. Sprinkle the coriander on top and mix well.
Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Once the mixture has cooled, shape
it into balls about 4cm (1½in) in diameter and set aside on a plate.
Heat a 5–7.5cm (2–3in) depth of oil in a deep-fat fryer or deep frying pan.
Meanwhile, sift the chickpea flour into a bowl and mix in some chilled water,
a spoonful at a time, until you have a batter with the consistency of double
cream. Season with salt.
Test if the oil is now hot enough by adding a few drops of batter to it: they
should bob up instantly. If not, continue heating and testing, but do not
overheat. When ready, dip the potato balls in the batter with your fingers,
let the excess drip off and gently lower them into the hot oil. Fry for about
2–3 minutes, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, which will lower the
oil temperature too much. Drain on kitchen paper.
For the chutney, put all the ingredients (apart from the oil) into a blender and
whiz to a smooth paste. Add oil only if the mixture does not purée without it.
To serve, cut open the bread rolls, spread some chutney on both halves and
sandwich them together with a vada. Alternatively, serve as a snack without
bread, offering the chutney and perhaps some chilli ketchup for dipping.
Recipe taken from Mr Todiwala’s Spice Box by Cyrus Todiwala, available here