Aloo Vada Wich

Aloo Chop, from the kitchens and streets of Kolkata and Bengal, in India, is a deep fried potato fritter with spices, and coated with a crispy gram flour layer. Akin to the famous street food Batata Vada, widely eaten right across the other side of the country, especially Mumbai and it’s surroundings. I’m a big fan of Vada-paav (batata vada stuffed in between slices of rustic bread or paav, and doused with spicy chutneys), since I grew up in Mumbai. I have incorporated a bit of of both styles of the batata vada and the aloo chop in my recipe version, and it turned out crunchy, spicy and delicious. Eaten for breakfast, lunch, chai-time or dinner, with or without bread, with definitely some form of chutney as an accompaniment. I love to infuse a bit of local flavors, so whenever I get a chance to improvise, I absolutely do so. In this case, instead of the ubiquitous green chutney, I mashed up fresh guacamole and added a hint of ground cumin and lemon juice. It’s mellow taste complimented the spices in the vada. I could not get my hand on rustic style paavs, so I sandwiched the fritter in-between rustic slices of crusty French bread. A garnish of fresh baby salad leaves and a sprinkle of the popular South Indian spice mix, fondly referred to as Gunpowder, thanks to the extra kick it gives to a dish, or Podi powder, it’s more subtler name. And to finally end the dish with aplomb, some crispy onions and Shishito peppers, fried in the leftover batter. There you have it, the Aloo Vada Wich!

Servings: 8-10 vadas

Ingredients:

2 large potatoes, peeled and boiled. Mash the potatoes and set aside.

1 tbsp. paste of fresh garlic, ginger and green chillies

A few fresh curry leaves, finely chopped

Cumin seeds- 3/4 tsp.

Black mustard seeds- 3/4 tsp.

A pinch asafoetida or hing

Ground cumin and coriander powder- 1 tbsp.

Kashmiri red chilli powder or paprika, for color- 1 tsp.

Dried mango powder/amchoor- 1/2 tsp.

Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp.

Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp.

Salt, to taste

Fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped- 2 tbsp.

Oil, for frying

For the batter:

1 cup gram flour or besan

2 tbsp. rice flour. Can also substitute with corn flour. This provides an added crispy texture.

A pinch baking soda

A pinch turmeric

1/2 tsp. red chilli powder

1/2 tsp. crushed ajwain or carrom seeds

1/4-1/2 tsp. salt, to taste

Water

For garnish: Fresh baby salad leaves, avocado, a handful sliced onions and shishito peppers

In a large non-stick pan, heat a tbsp. of oil. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds start to splutter, add the ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and curry leaves. Saute and then turn heat to low. Add the coriander-cumin, turmeric, red chilli powder/paprika and saute on low heat, being careful the masalas or spices do not burn. Add the mashed potatoes. Stir well. Add the garam masala and amchoor powders. Add salt to taste. Add the fresh coriander leaves. Mix well. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.

Form golf size balls of the mixture and flatten them. Set aside on a plate.

For the batter:

In a bowl, add the besan/gram flour and rice flour. Mix well. Add the spices, baking soda and salt. Add water. a little at a time whisking all the while. The batter should be a consistency that it not too thick, nor too thin or watery. It should coat the aloo fritters well.

Heat oil in a kadhai or wok. The oil should be hot. Once the oil is hot, coat the fritters in the batter and deep fry, on low/medium heat, till light to golden brown and crisp.

Add the sliced onions and shishito peppers in the leftover batter. Fry them to a crunchy golden brown.

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