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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Batata Vada/Batata Wada - Pressure Cooked Version

I have always embraced the concept of using a pressure cooker and trying to minimize effort without compromising on taste. In fact, I think I have used the pressure cooker almost daily for as long as I can remember since I learnt cooking. My very first lesson was how to cook lentils (dal) and rice at the same time in the cooker, layering the two on top of each other in different containers. Even now, every time I make these together, I recall my mom telling me to place the dal at the bottom since it takes longer to cook and the rice on top of the dal container, so that both can cook evenly in the same amount of time without overcooking either ingredient. I have posted several dishes on this blog that I have made in the pressure cooker over the years and shared my tips with you. And since I see pressure cooker popularity growing, I will try to keep posting more recipes. This is however a blog where I explore all kinds of cuisines made using all kinds of cooking methods and hope to keep updating it with recipes, which can be made for all different life occasions. I have been reading the book Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass, who has been writing about pressure cooking since 1989 and is considered to be an authority on pressure cooking. She has explained the concepts of cooking at high pressure on high heat, layering based on the sugar content and cooking times of foods, using the right size heating element to heat the cooker, and other key concepts which help understand the science behind cooking under pressure. The book also contains good instructions on how to understand your cooker. She dedicates a few pages on observations to be made when you get a new cooker to then be able to use it to your advantages. This is to be done by heating water in it and determining when it comes to pressure as well as tracking how much water dissipates over time as it cooks. There are many other great write ups, books, forums and websites which extensively use pressure cooker based cooking and provide the scientific techniques to get the best use of your cooker and also explain the science behind cooking via layering, why certain foods may burn and how to handle them and other great insight. Here is a link to a fascinating history of the invention and development of pressure cooker based cooking, rooted in scientific work by French physicist Denis Papin in 1679. It shows the evolution of pressure cooking methods through the ages. And the evolution continues with the next generation of safe electric pressure cookers. So lets acknowledge the history and the scientists who have made this possible.http://discoverpressurecooking.com/history.html Since we are on the theme of batata vada with the garlic coconut chutney post earlier, I thought this would be a good post to follow, even though I have already posted the recipes for batata vada a long time ago on this blog.This post provides the traditional method of making authentic batata vadas, which works really well. The last time I ate batata vada, my friend had made a completely cooked stuffing, instead of keeping the onions raw as I had done with my original post. So, this time around I decided to try this version. I also made the pav/bread/dinner roll and the garlic chutney, which must accompany the vada pav to give it the authentic taste. I figured the way to make the batata vada stuffing easily would be to make the mashed potato stuffing with the seasonings at one go instead of boiling the potatoes separately and then adding them to the cooked and seasoned onions. As a side note, Lorna Sass makes mashed potatoes in her book in a similar way. Which just shows how wonderful the world of food is. By just changing the seasonings used in one food item, mashed potatoes in this case, it can be completely transformed into another.

So, I cut up raw potatoes into small pieces and using appropriate layering (keeping in mind the starches in potato), made the seasoned potato stuffing in the pressure cooker. I released the pressure and let it cool down a little and mashed it to make the stuffing. I had made the batter while the potatoes were being cooked and let the oil heat up in the time the stuffing cooled down.Well, after making this mashed potato stuffing, I used fistfuls and rolled them into small balls, dipped it in the batter and deep-fried them. I cooked the remaining stuffing and batter the next day, in the appe pan (aebelskiver pan), which turned out great as well. 



Ingredients
For the stuffing
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 large potatoes, diced into small pieces (about 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch) 
salt to taste
2 garlic pods, finely chopped or precooked garlic paste
1/2 inch ginger, finely chopped or precooked ginger paste
1 chilli, cut into pieces, or to taste 
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 lemon
2 tsp oil (or premade tadka/phodni/seasoning)
1/8 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
pinch of turmeric
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp of water

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
water

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

Equipment 
Pressure cooker (I have used a 3 liter cooker or the Instant Pot)


Method
In the pressure cooker or Instant Pot layer the ingredients as follows:

Layer 1 - Add 3 tbsp+ 1 tsp of water and oil. Add the mustard and cumin seeds to this layer. Add the chilli pieces to this.
Layer 2 - Add the ginger and garlic (if using fresh) to the oil+water layer. Then add a layer of onions. If using cooked ginger and garlic, add them on top of the onions. 
Layer 3 - Spread out the potatoes in a the next layer without disturbing the previous layer. 
Layer 4 - hing, turmeric, salt and sugar.

If using the premade tadka, do not add the mustard, cumin and hing to the layers as stated above. Just add the tadka to the last layer along with the turmeric, salt and sugar (as show in the picture).





Do not mix any layers. Close the lid and cook as follows:

Pressure cooker - Cook this at high heat for 3 whistles.  I have an electric glasstop stove and I use the 8 setting. Let the cooker cool down and the pressure fall.  
Instant Pot - 4 minutes on manual mode. Let the pressure fall. 

Then open up the lid and mash the potatoes and mix well. Add the lemon juice and cilantro and mix well. Your stuffing is ready.





Take a fist full of this stuffing and 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. 

Deep Frying
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 evenly brown. 

Shallow Frying in Appe/Aebelskiver Pan
Add a little oil to each of the appe pan disks. Then using the same process, dunk the potato ball into the batter and place it into each disk. After it is cooked on one side, turn it over and cook the vadas turning them over till the cover is well cooked on all side.

Serve with garlic coconut chutneyor spicy mint chutney




Tips
If the potatoes are directly touching the base of the cooker, there is a greater chance of burning. The water, oil provide a buffer to the onion layer and these three together protect the potatoes from burning. To make the tadka, heat oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the hing and turn off the heat. You can add the turmeric to the hot oil itself instead of the potatoes.

3 comments:

  1. Brings back some lovely memories of my working years in Mumbai and Pune (late 90s).

    Will try this recipe soon ! Thanks for sharing !

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow ! Nice to know that things like layering, water testing etc go back to the 80s ! Thank you for this lovely updated write up. I tried the recipe in my 2 litre and will do it in my 6 quart and report back soon. Was just delish as Rachel Ray would say !

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very nice post, explaining the science behind layering, how to cook and pressure cooking! Cooking makes us human but pressure cooking makes us Gods!

    ReplyDelete

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