Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Bombaiyya ….Anando Mela

Vada Pao the quintessential Bombay street food like all true street foods is essentially a very simple dish which uses flavors which 99% people would love. What’s not to love about fried potatoes and warm bread, anyway?
Since our anando mela sees a fair amount of non Bengali navratra celebrating guests I made it a point to have two chutneys to go with my vada pao. The first a green coriander, mint chutney with no onion or garlic and the other the ‘must’ dry chutney that goes with vada pao made with red chillies and garlic.
To my surprise I ran out of Vada paos even before I finished my Sali boti and that says something. Here is the recipe for all of it.
Warning: the recipes may not be totally authentic for I do let my tongue and mind overrule most cook books.

1 kg potato – boiled peeled and mashed
Pao – I got store bought ones
Vegetable oil
Asafoetida – a tsp, I like the flavor so usually use more, you can use a pinch if not too happy with it
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Green chilli & ginger paste 1 tbsp – I omitted the use of garlic since I had navratras in mind
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves  a bunch chopped fine
For the batter:
Coarse gram flour (besan) 1.5 cup
Salt to taste
Red chilli powder ½ tsp
Turmeric powder ¼ tsp
Baking soda – ¼ tsp
Mix all the ingredients for the batter together with adequate amount of water to make a smooth paste, shouldn’t be too thin. Set it aside.
Then in a kadhai heat one tablespoon oil add asafetida, turmeric powder, green chilli and ginger paste and give it a good mix. Add the the mashed potatoes and salt and mix well. Set aside to cool. Add the coriander and mash it all up again well.
Divide the potato mix into small balls of equal proportions. Heat enough oil in a kadhai for deep frying, dip the potato balls in the prepared batter and carefully drop in the hot oil. Lower flame and let fry to a golden brown exterior. Take out with a slotted spoon onto a colander or tissue lined plate.
Ideally these should be immediately put inside a split pav and had with a sprinkling of dry garlic chutney…however since I was taking them to the anando mela I chose to keep them while and did the final assembling at the venue.

Now for the chutneys:
Green chutney sans garlic:
Grind together coriander, mint, green chillies and ginger to a fine paste add salt and lemon juice to taste and you are done.
Coconut & garlic chutney:
Scrapped coconut 1 cup, dried red chillies 3-4, garlic cloves 8-10, roasted peanuts 2 tablespoon, tamarind paste 2 tbsp, salt to taste
Dry roast the coconut in a non stick pan, transfer to a plate and cool to room temperature. Dry roast the red chillies and cool. Grind together all ingredients to a coarse powder.

And you are ready to serve your vada pao both the sattvik and non sattvik way. Enjoy!

The Vada Pav picture is from google and only for representation purpose.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Bombay Parsi Connect On the First Day of Pujo 2016

This Anando Mela (home cooked food stalls at Durga Puja Pandals on usually the first day of the festivities, for those who don’t know about it) I planned to do a thematic stall basis a certain kind of cuisine instead of random stuff.

I chose Parsi food as the theme and planned to do three items from the same – veg, non veg and dessert and instantly hit a roadblock. While for both non veg and desserts I had many recipes to pick from I just couldn’t find a veg recipe which would strike a chord. I googled, asked knowledgeable friends and read up recipe books but couldn’t find anything which I could be sure would be appreciated at an Anando Mela Stall…after all it’s the first day of pujas and people would be looking forward to interesting lip smacking dishes a stew or dal wouldn't pass muster.

So after much looking around I did what had to be done and tweaked the initial concept to being Bombay based rather than Parsi and added the absolute hot favorite among Bombay’s street foods i.e Vada Pao to my list of dishes.

Having made up my mind I then started hunting for the recipes from friends, blogs and also some websites. The delicious Sali Boti and Laganu Custard were actually surprisingly easy to make and turned out yummy as well.

The vada pao the simple veg dish took more effort and time …since the vadas needed to be freshly fried and the chutneys that go to make the combination the addiction it is, have to be just right. 

Since I was going to make all dishes in bulk I made smaller quantities a couple of days in advance to check out how it works. I tweaked the recipes to suit my tastebuds and of course available ingredients and was satisfied with the results.

The day of the Anando Mela came around and I got down to cooking in a frenzy while the landlord chose the very same day to get repair work done at home making our house resemble a war zone of sorts. Frantic activity happening everywhere and baby and doggie raising hell for having been confined.

The recipe for Sali Boti recommended boneless mutton sadly due to Navratra my usual mutton shop was closed and I had to order in from another one…they said they couldn’t deliver boneless mutton so I had to do with mince instead…however they agreed to send me coarse mince and not the machine made sludge that passes for mince these days.

The mutton got delivered in time and I set to work. One of the things I have learnt with time is to gather every ingredient needed including water in a jug at hand before starting to cook and that’s what I did.

In case you want to try making Sali Boti …here is how you can go about making it.

Ingredients list for Sali Boti:
I have reduced quantities here to make it more in tune with what one would cook for the family, I was of course cooking a large quantity

500 gm boneless mutton cut into small pieces/ coarse mutton keema
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp jeera and green chilli paste
1/2 cup yogurt

2 tbsp oil
4 onions chopped very finely
3 spoons of garlic flavored soup herbs
3 bay leaves
1 tsp of chilli and turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnishing
Lemon wedges
150 gms sali / fine potato sticks 

Marinate the meat in salt, ginger garlic paste, green chilli paste and yoghurt. Cover the bowl and let the meat marinate ideally overnight and a minimum of 4 hours. Marinating is what really infuses the flavors so try and plan a little in advance so that you don’t have to skimp on this important aspect.
In a thick bottomed/ nonstick pan heat the oil and then add the chopped onions. Fry the onions till they are golden pink in colour. Now, add in the tomato puree as well as the garlic herb.
Once it forms a thick gravy add in the marinated meat, all the masalas, vinegar, sugar and bay leaves. Give everything a good stir and cover your pot so that the meat can start slow cooking on a low-medium flame.
The slow cooking will have to be patiently supervised with a once in a while stir, once the mutton starts to look cooked slightly removed the cover lid so that the steam can escape and the dish doesn’t look watery. When the meat becomes tender and the tomato gravy has reduced by almost half its contents then your Sali Boti is ready. Garnish with finely chopped coriander and give it a final stir.
Serve hot with some sali on top and lemon on the side for those who would prefer their’s a little sourer. This dish is good as a snack and also as a lunch dish with chapatti or paratha.
P.S: The Vada pao and Laganu Custard recipes will follow in separate posts.