Rain has started to wet the grass and the air is turning chilly making me turn to comfort foods. For me comfort food means fried food ... naughty , isn't it..!!! Something to satisfy my cravings, something to put the warmth back into my soul, something to please my taste buds and something easy to make...
Back home in India road side stalls are famous for fried goodies. When you cross such a stall, the aromas of various fried savoury items are so inviting that it is hard to resist. There is one person standing in front of a large iron vessel which is brimming with hot oil and by the side there would be large plates lined with round equal sized balls made of simple boiled potato flavoured with spices and another large bowl of batter.
As the onlookers watch, one person very systematically dip the dumplings and drop them into the batter and the other one pushes these dumplings in the oil until done. These dumplings literally sell like "hot cakes" within minutes. These stalls are crowded munching on these hot snacks matched with thick spicy coconut chutney. It is not a one day drama but goes on all through out the year.
For me traditional snacks appeal more than modern ones. If you are from Tamil Nadu, then you must be very familiar with this awesome snack. It is very simple to prepare and tastes fabulous.
Bondas are nothing but spiced potato dumplings dipped in besan batter and fried in oil to form a crisp outer coating. The good thing about this snack is that it can be made with simple ingredients from your pantry or left over boiled potatoes.
Variations with the stuffing makes this snack even more delicious. You can add vegetables such as carrots, peas, beans to the potato and convert it into vegetable bonda. If you prefer you can also make spicy chicken or minced meat stuffing and make bondas in the same way.
This also doubles as awesome finger food in parties especially with the festive season coming up.
For the potato stuffing:
Potatoes : 3 medium.
Onion : 1 medium [chopped].
Curry leaves: 1 sprig.
Ginger : 1 inch piece.
Green chilli : 1.
Fennel powder: 1 tsp.
Garam masala: 1 tsp.
Tumeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Oil: 1 tbsp.
Salt: to taste.
For the batter:
Kadalai maavu [besan flour]: 5 tbsp.
Rice flour: 2 tbsp.
Omam : 1 pinch [crushed].
Chilli powder : 1/2 tsp.
Water : as required.
Salt: to taste.
Mix the flours, salt, chilli powder and omam together. Add water little by little to make a a smooth batter. The consistency should be little loose than pancake batter.
To fry : around 300 mls of oil.
1. Wash, peel and chop the potatoes into cubes. Boil until tender. Cool and mash with a fork. Set aside.
2.Meanwhile crush the ginger and chilli into a paste.
3.Place a non stick vessel on medium flame and heat 1 tbsp of oil. Splutter the mustard, cumin and curry leaves.
4.Add the onion and fry until soft. Add the ginger chilli paste and all the powders.Fry for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the mashed potatoes and salt and mix well.
5.Reduce the flame to low and keep the mixture covered for 5 minutes.
6.Open the lid and give once final stir. Remove from flame and set aside.
To make the bondas:
1. Heat oil in a deep vessel on medium flame.
2. Make small round balls from the potato masala of equal size around 2 cms in diameter.
3.Dip the balls one by one into the batter maximum of 4 at a time and fry in oil.
4.Make sure the oil is hot enough by drop a blob of batter in the oil. If it fries up immediately and floats on the surface, then it means the oil is in the right temperature.
5.If the batter blob takes time to fry or becomes very dark brown in colour immediately, then it means the oil is cold or too hot respectively.
6.Fry all the potato balls dipped in batter and drain on paper towels.
Serve hot with tamarind chutney or any other chutney of your choice.
The best combination for bondas or any evening snack prepared in Tamil Nadu has to be coconut chutney made with coconut, roasted channa dal, ginger and green chillies. It is a match made in heaven.
Now a days, tomato ketchup makes a good partnership but my choice is Tamarind chutney. Anyone and everyone who has eaten chaat items must be familiar with this chutney. It is incredibly easy to make with very simple ingredients, keeps well for more than a month and also comes in handy to accompany snacks when you are in a hurry. You can make it as spicy or sweet as you want.
This chutney has 5-6 ingredients but let me tell you that it is brimmimg with dietary fiber, antioxidants, phyto chemicals, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium and potassium from the tamarind, dates and jaggery. The best part is there is no oil in this chutney which makes it even more yummy...:)
Raw tamarind: 50 gms.
Water: 250 mls.
Dates : 8-10.
Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp.
Chilli flakes: 1 pinch.
Salt: to taste.
Jaggery : 2-3 tbsp.
1.Boil half the amount of water and soak the tamarind in this water.
2.Once the water has cooled, mash the soft tamarind with your fingers to squeeze the pulp. Drain the thick tamarind water into a vessel.
3.Pour the remaining water and mash the tamarind again. Drain the tamarind water and collect the water in the same vessel which has the thick tamarind water.
4.Chop the dates finely and add to the tamarind water along with cumin powder and chilli flakes.
5.Place the vessel on slim flame and simmer for 20- 25 minutes stirring once or twice in between until and glossy. Make sure that the dates has completely softened and disintergrated.
6.Add the jaggery and stir until the jaggery has dissolved completely. Check salt and remove from flame.
Serve with the hot bondas.
Scribbled by Reva