Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Recipe of the month: Aloo Pyaz Kachori


Okay, so starting April 7th, I will be officially working from home. Last Friday, Singapore announced a one month shut down of schools and non-essential workplaces as "circuit-breaker" measures to curb the increasing local transmission of the coronavirus. Most of us saw it coming so it wasn't much of a surprise.

For those of you who don't know, I am a biomedical researcher. I rely on a well-equipped laboratory to conduct my experiments on a daily basis. I need advanced instruments/equipment, various kinds of chemicals and consumables, containment facilities and clinical samples to further my research. Working from home, is not really an option for someone with a career like mine. The last time I stayed at home at a stretch was only to write my Masters thesis way back in 2010. But judging by the circumstances of the past few months, my lab did anticipate that this day would come and so me and my colleagues prudently planned ahead and accelerated our experiments, making sure that we would have enough data to prepare a scientific manuscript if the day came where we have to be confined to the four walls of our homes.

So the next one month is going to be spent seated in front of my laptop pouring through literature, brushing up on scientific writing, analysing data, applying statistics and preparing illustrations, figures and tables. Although I don't mind the process of writing a journal paper, sitting in front of the computer for a prolonged period of time is something I find very hard to do.

I miss so many things about my usual work routine - I miss grabbing pau and fruit from the canteen, sipping green tea while checking my e-mails in the peace and quiet of an empty office (I'm one of the earliest to reach work), I miss doing my experiments, crossing off my to-do lists for the day, chatting with my colleagues, going for my exercise classes during lunch breaks, attending intellectually stimulating seminars and the drive to and from work with my husband.


I had come up with a well-thought out plan for how I am going to manage working from home. But it mostly went down the drain yesterday. I was supposed to review a manuscript, which normally doesn't take me very long but today, in the midst of getting my kids to do their homework, thinking of ways to keep them occupied, making sure they don't disturb my husband during his conference calls, getting them snacks every few hours, breaking up their endless fights, cooking lunch and making sure everything and everyone was okay, I couldn't accomplish as much as I thought I could. Maybe it was a case of unrealistic expectations or else me just not being able to let go of the little things and get on with my work.

I understand too well that in the current situation, it is a privilege to have a roof over your head, good food to eat, family that is safe, income not affected (at least not yet!) and the perks of domestic help.  Not to mention, we have a government who is providing every household with free hand sanitizer, reusable masks, free/subsidized medical care and one of the best stimulus packages to soften the blow of the virus impact. So if I was coming across as whiny or ungrateful, that wasn't the intention at all. I was just going through a normal human emotion of feeling unsettled with this drastic change in routine. But I am determined to make this work so today is going to be better.....I just know it! I am learning to deal with a situation that I previously never had to deal with so it is bound to have teething problems.

When you are at home all day, the temptation to snack is unusually high. Same holds good for me and my family. I am indeed worried that me and my husband will turn into a food scarfing, lethargic lumps! We need to start social distancing from the kitchen and pronto 😆 Since the past few weeks, I have been cooking and baking more and I realize that this has mostly stemmed from boredom. Well, in stressful times like these, if cooking and food gives people some solace and joy then it can't be all that bad, can it?

Kachori is something that recently came up in a conversation between me and one of my close friends (and fellow mom of two young daughters). She shared the same snack woes as me and living in Delhi, she mentioned that Aloo Pyaz Kachori was something her family liked very much. Now I'll be very honest. I have very little experience with kachori. Forget making it at home, I have barely eaten it more than a handful of times. As a food blogger, I am always interested to try something that is unfamiliar territory for me. So I immediately made a mental note to try Aloo Pyaz Kachori at the next available opportunity.

I found a recipe that I thought would turn out nice, tweaked it a little and made the kachori and suggested accompaniments the very next evening. It turned out really well. The recipe recommended double-frying the kachoris but I didn't have the patience for that. The filling was flavourful and not too spicy so even my kids enjoyed it. I made both a spicy and sweet sauce and the kachori dunked in equal quantities of both was even better than dunking them separately. I will be making these again for sure and this recipe is a keeper.


Sharing this recipe with you all so you can chase away any boredom and make your family happy at the same time (just remember to do some home-based aerobics, pilates or zumba afterwards 😆).

Aloo Pyaz Kachori

Prep time: 30 mins; Cook time: 30 mins; Resting time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hr 30 mins
Makes: 14-16 kachori
Recipe category: Indian/Snack
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Adapted from here

Ingredients:

For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose or plain flour (maida)
6 tbsp ghee
1.5 tsp salt

For the kachori filling:
3 tbsp oil
1.5 tbsp coriander seeds (dhania)
1.5 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1.5 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
2 garlic pods, minced
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1-2 green chilli, finely chopped (adjust according to spice level)
6 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 to 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to spice level)
1.5 tsp chaat masala or lime juice
3 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
Asafoetida (hing), a pinch
1.5 tsp refined sugar
Salt, to taste
Ghee or oil, for deep frying

For sweet banana chutney: 
1/3 cup dark brown sugar or jaggery powder
1/2 tbsp tamarind or lemon sized ball, adjust to taste
1 long ripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed or powdered
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, crushed or powdered
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, powdered or crushed
Salt or black salt, to taste
1/4 tsp chaat masala 

For red chilli garlic chutney:
6 garlic cloves
10 dry red chillies
Salt, to taste
Honey, to taste

Method;
1. In a bowl, add flour, salt, ghee and crumble it together well. Now add water little by little and knead it well to form a soft dough. Remember that you must knead it enough to allow the gluten to develop. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and keep it aside for 30 minutes.



2. Using mortar and pestle crush the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds to a coarse powder.


3. Add 3 tbsp oil in a pan. Add crushed spices and sauté on medium flame until aromatic.


4. Add minced garlic, finely chopped onions, green chilli and sauté till onion becomes brown in color.


5. Add chickpea flour and sauté till you get nice aroma. Switch off the flame.


6. To this mixture add thinly sliced onions, red chilli powder, chat masala, boiled potatoes, asafoetida, sugar, salt to taste and mix well. Let this cool down completely.


7. Heat ghee or oil in a kadai on medium heat for frying. Wait until it gets nice and hot.

8. Pinch lemon sized ball from the prepared dough and the filling. The balls from either should roughly be of equal size. 


9. Flatten the dough ball in your palms.

10. On this, place a ball of the prepared filling at the center. Get the edges of the dough around it and seal well by pinching the dough.



11. Do this until all the dough and filling is used up. 


12. Just before frying, gently press the ball using your palms to form a kachori of uniform thickness and approx  4 inch diameter (rolling pin is not required) 


13. For best results, you can double fry the kachoris for 20 seconds on either side, transfer to paper towel, let it cool and then re-fry again for about 10 minutes (flip it in between).

I don't have any patience to do this so I just fried each kachori for about 10 mins on medium flame with one flip in between. Add in only one or two kachoris at a time. Do not crowd the kadai. 


14. Transfer the kachoris to a paper towel, and let cool for few minutes.

15. The kachoris are now ready. Serve with chillies, onions, red chilli garlic chutney and sweet banana chutney.


For sweet banana chutney:
1. Bring 1-1/2 cup of water to boil. To this add brown sugar or jaggery powder, tamarind, mashed banana, salt, crushed coriander, fennel and cumin seeds.
2. Simmer this for 10 to 15 minutes or till you get the desired thickness.
3. Let it cool down completely. 
4. Blend it if you prefer or use as is
5. Refrigerate and use as and when needed.


For red chilli garlic chutney:
1. Soak red chiles in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes.
2. Grind garlic cloves, soaked red chilli with salt to taste and about 1/3 cup of water to smooth paste.
3. Taste it, add a little honey (to balance it out) and transfer it to a bowl. 
4. Refrigerate and serve as and when needed.



Notes:
  • Use fresh oil to fry the kachoris and make sure the oil is hot but not smoking
  • If you refrigerate unfried potato filled dough balls, first them them come to room temperature before you press them into kachoris and fry 
  • You can also serve the kachori with green chutney, sweet tamarind chutney or tomato sauce
  • You can make delicious kachori chaat from these kachoris

Cheers,
Megha


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