Friday, June 5, 2009
En route to Pune, at Karjat station, two additional engines are attached to the train to help it chug along the uphill ghaat. This is a longish stop - and there are vendors aplenty selling soft drinks and chikkis and...yes - the one thing we'd been impatiently waiting for - batata wada (a mashed potato patty covered with gram flour paste and deep fried ).
The spicy batata wada was the perfect accompaniment for what is without doubt the best part of the journey - the train making its way up the ghat - through the numerous tunnels it went and as it climbed higher, cottony clouds clung to the treetops and in monsoons, numerous waterfalls cascaded down the hill slopes...breath-takingly beautiful.
H.O.W.E.V.E.R, the most over riding memory of batata wada for me is, sadly, not the beautiful train ride, but the horrenduous, awful song Batata Wada. My friend would hum that song as the train approached Karjat with the result that now this song so firmly entrenched in my brain that every time I have/make batata wada, it starts playing in my head.
So while I go dunk my head in cold water to clear the song off my head, you go take a look at my way of making batata wada.
Potatoes - 5 nos
Garlic - 10 cloves, finely chopped
Curry Leaves - 12-15
Coriander Leaves - 4 tbsps, chopped
Green chillies - 3
Ginger - 1" piece
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric - 3/4 tsp
Juice of 1 lemon
Sugar - 1 tsp
for the batter:
Besan/Gram flour - 2 cups
Water - 1 cup
Salt, turmeric, red chilli powder - to season the batter
A pinch of soda bi-carb
Oil for deep frying
Pressure cook the potatoes until soft - normally, I cook mine for about 4 whistles. Peel and cut into cubes; when cool enough to handle, add salt and sugar and mix well, mashing as you mix - you are looking for a chunky mash.
Pound the green chillies and ginger together.
Heat oil, pop in the mustard seeds. Let them splutter and then add the curry leaves and chopped garlic. Stir till the garlic turns soft. Then add the curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric powder, followed by the green chilli and ginger paste and stir for a minute.
Now, add the potatoes and stir till the potatoes are evenly coated with the tempering. Sprinkle the coriander leaves and the lemon juice, continue to mix for a further two minutes and set aside to cool a bit.
Prepare the batter by mixing together the gram flour and the water - add the water in two additions - the amount indicated here is just a guideline; the resulting batter should not be too runny or thin. Add the seasonings (I also add some chopped curry leaves in my batter as well as some ginger, chilli paste) and whisk well.. Then add the soda bi-carb and a tbsp of hot oil.
Heat oil in a kadhai, shape the potatoes into lemon sized balls, dip into the batter and fry till golden brown.
Serve hot with chutneys/ sauces of your choice. I served mine with tamarind chutney, mint chutney and garlic chutney.
Oh, still wondering about that song, are you? Listen to it here. Sure enough, it will haunt you!!
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!