Pakodas by Sangeeta Khanna reached me on a Rainy afternoon .
This was a surprise. The timing was perfect though. It had stopped raining except for cloudy evenings, when Pakodas by Sangeeta Khanna reached me. I, literally, go weak in my knees in the evenings, romanticizing over fried food. Known as Telebhaja amongst most Bengalis, Muri and telebhaja makes for a perfect folly for an evening adda even today. Rainfall and a bhaji or bhajiya or telebhaja and a cha is almost synonymous here. It’s a 250 page book with more than 200 various recipes of Pakodas and even 37 chutneys. And for a telebhaja lover like me, it is like an entry ticket to a theme park.
Spicy Mutton Pakoda was finally selected
No prizes for guessing but obviously, I flipped to the non vegetarian section before everything else. The book has an impressive assortment of poultry, fish, sea food and meat pakodas. There is Dimer Devil, chicken pakoda, Chicken 65 and Margi na Farcha, the famous Parsi dish and more. In one of the interviews post the book release, Sangeeta had said that it had taken her 3 years to write the book. During her travels across the country, over the years, she collected recipes subconsciously. As a Bengali, if I don’t speak about Chingri macher Sorshe posto bora, kucho chingrir bora, then it will be unfair. These two are also there. We decided to make Spicy mutton Pakoda and here are the reasons.
Why Spicy Mutton Pakoda?
There is the obvious reason of being biased towards non vegetarian. And then I love mutton over all else. However, there is another reason too. I have never had mutton pakoda before. I have had mutton chop and that’s more like a croquet than a pakoda. As Sangeeta mentions in her book “Pakodas are not just one type of batter fried snack made in a unidimensional way. India has so many regional variants which are dependent on local produce that one discovers a new ingredient or a novel method of making them these deep fried treats even amongst lesser known regions or communities.”
My best memory of a pakoda is chicken pakoda, which was very popular in Chandannagore. Boneless chicken, dipped in a batter of egg, corn flour and flour with herbs and salt and double fried. Fluffy chicken pakodas were that simple. With onion and chili sauce, they were a great evening snack for us.
Pakoda, Vada, Pakoriyan, Bora – where is the chop
It was a Sunday afternoon when I got into this conversation with Sangeeta herself, Kalyan (a blogger/writer/author who doesn’t need any introduction perhaps), Anoothi Vishal (food writer and who curates the unique Kayasth Khatirdari meals across the world) and other telebhaja enthusiasts joined in. I was trying to classify and create and a subset of Pakoda and Chop or rather, trying to corelate them. In Kolkata and amongst Bengalis, chop is more popular than Pakodas. In fact, one of the best part of ‘Pakodas’ is the amount of research which has gone behind this. I read the names of Bajka, Bajji or Bhajia, Vada also known as Bada or bora, Gota from Gujarat, Kaap, Burelu and the endless list for the first time.
Alur Chop is colonial hangover for Bengalis?
“Chop” as Anoothi Vishal pointed out in our discussion, comes from “confused thinking”. In Europe, a chop (in India, chaap) or cutlet is a whole piece of meat from the ribs, sometimes flattened, coated with breadcrumbs and fried like in Austria. Croquets are mashed or finely chopped meats, potatoes, with bechamel sauce (like we have in Goa). The recipe of Aloo Bonda is so similar to our Aloor Chop and I find no logic of calling it a Chop at all. From kolmi shaker Bora, to peyanji (can also be called a pakoda), kumro fuler bora, mochar chop (again a bora basically), we have so many of these varieties.
In fact, I used to love fuluri. Now I have come to know that it is a generic name for Fulouri and needs extreme finesse to make. Analysed closely, isn’t it the same technique with which, the legendary Victoria Badawala in Vardaan market has been churning out his Vadas?
This article by Anoothi in the Telegraph on Calcuta Chop was an interesting read.
Spicy Mutton Pakoda – the tricks
I can go on endlessly about chops but I had to stop only after a bite at the freshly made Spicy Mutton Pakoda. I asked Sangeeta about these Pakodas and she confirmed that these are very common in UP and North India at large for evening parties and goes well with drinks. As Madhushree made these pakodas and we tasted from pan to mouth (dropping the plate in between), the crispy outer case with almost a crackling sound, set the journey. The meat was boiled with spices beforehand and soft, tender flavoured meat was heaven.
Hat tip – Use a chutney with this for enhanced foodgasm and should be had from pan to mouth. We used a coriander chutney, as suggested in the book. Like most of the telebhaja and Pakodas, these can’t be made before hand and kept.
More to read from Pakodas by Sangeeta Khanna
I won’t give any more spoilers for the book Pakodas by Sangeeta Khanna . A reminder that Pakodas are much older than the chops and fries and cutlets in India and it’s a myth that Pakodas are unhealthy if they are prepared the way they used to be prepared by our grandmas. It’s a tradition and great dish with regional interpretation which unites the country in all diversified forms. You can book your copy here. (Link)
Someday I want to write about the Telebhaja legacy of Chandannagore but in order to understand what Telebhaja means to Bengalis read this piece written by ace journalist Sandip Roy. (Link) Dont forget for some Gelusil tablets with this.
Do try this recipe and share your feedback. You can reach out to us at our social media handles: Instagram, Facebook or any of our personal Facebook (Madhushree and Anindya) and twitter profiles. Post a picture and tag us.
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Spicy Mutton Pakoda
For the pakoda
- 500 gms bonesless mutton
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
- 2 nos black cardamom
- 2 nos bayleaf
- 6 nos cloves crushed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- vegetable oil for deep frying
For the Batter
- 1/4 cup Besan
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups coriander leaves don't include stems if they are not tender
- 1/3 cup mint leaves
- 3 nos green chilies
- 5 nos garlic cloves
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp sugar
Spicy Mutton Pakoda
- Boneless mutton should be roughly cut. It need not be of the same size but more or less bite sized pieces.
- Coat the mutton with all the ingredients from the coloum, except for the oil.
- In a pressure cooker, add the mustard oil and heat it. Transfer the mutton to the oil and then over high flame, stir fry it or rather brown it for the first 2 - 3 minutes. Then bring down the heat to a medium low and continue frying the meat.
- After about 10 minutes, add 3/4 cup of water and give it a boil. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and increase the heat. After one whistle, lower the heat and let it cook for 20 minutes.
- After that, turn off the heat. Once the steam has escaped, open the pressure cooker and check. If there is any liquid left (depends on the quality of your mutton), turn on the heat and let it cook till the liquid dried up.
- Once you have dry mutton pieces, soaked in that lovely sauce, transfer to a plate and let them cool down.
- Prepare the batter by taking all the ingredients, except the water in a mixing bowl.
- Slowly add the water till you reach a medium thick consistency.
- In a kadai, take vegetable oil for deep frying.
- When the oil is hot, dip the mutton pieces one by one into the batter and slide them in the hot oil.
- Regulate the temperature of the oil so that the batter doesn't burn fast. Cook till they are a beautiful golden brown in colour.
- Take them out and place of a kitchen towel to take out the extra oil.
- Serve hot with coriander chutney, lemon wedges and onion slices or rings.
- Take all the ingredients in a blender and grind to a smooth paste.
- Adjust the seasoning and the water content if required.