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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Batata Vada/Wada (Fried Potato Fritter)

"Batata vadas" are fried spicy potato fritters. It is one of the most common street foods in Maharashtra. Sandwhich one in a bun, add chutneys and voila, it is now a very Indian "burger". I have so many fond memories related to batata vadas. One that stands out is one rainy afternoon when my Dad and I had gone on a short hike on the outskirts of the city. There was a bracing wind, and a slight drizzle which soon turned into a downpour. Fortunately, we took found a small restaurant and took refuge there. Then, my dad ordered a plate of batata vadas with some hot tea. It was just fabulous! While the restaurant was pretty run down, the vadas were hot and tasty and the hot tea,the perfect drink for two drenched souls. Now, whenever it rains, I always wish that someone would hand me some vadas and tea. Well, I finally fried some when it rained the last time and they were lip smacking. So, next time it is dull, grey and pouring cats and dogs, whip up a batch and enjoy.

For the stuffing
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
salt to taste
2 garlic pods
1/2 inch ginger
2 chillies
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 lemon
2 tsp oil
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
pinch of turmeric

For the cover
1 cup besan/gram flour
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp oil, warm
1/4 tsp baking soda
salt to taste
1/8 tsp turmeric

oil to fry the vadas - there should be about 2-3 inches of oil, so that the entire potato fritter can be fried easily.

Grind the green chillies, ginger and garlic into a paste. Mix it into the mashed potatoes. Mix in the onions and cilantro. Then add the sugar and salt to the mixture. In a small pan, hehe at the oil and add mustard and cumins seeds. Once they crackle, add the hing and turmeric. Turn off the heat and pour this onto the mixture. Mix well. Then squeeze some lemon juice into this mixture.

Roll out the potato mixture into small balls, about 1.5 - 2 inches in diameter. Keep aside.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the besan, chilli powder, salt and baking soda. Add some oil which has been warmed and then add some water. Add a little water at a time and mix to form a batter. The consistency of the batter should be thick so that when you dunk the potato balls the batter should coat it evenly.

Heat the oil. Then, dunk a potato ball into the batter and gently drop it into the oil. (be very careful not to splash any oil on you). Add about 3-4 vadas only at a time. Do not over crowd your frying pan. Fry the vadas till the cover is brown. Serve with spicy mint chutney and tamarind chutney.

If you add more water to the cover batter by mistake, add a little more flour and adjust the salt and chilli levels to taste. To check if the oil is hot enough, drop a little batter into the oil and if the droplets come up immediately, then the oil is hot and ready to fry the vadas.


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