If you have been seeing Batata Vadas appear in some of the food blogs you read and wondering what is up with that, here is what is at the root of it all – old fashioned indulgence. A year ago, while discussing this and that on this blog, I and my readers decided a party was in order – an old fashioned yet not completely throw-caution-to-the-winds party. Celebrating food without worrying about what went into it, or got left out; being intuitive instead of thoughtful. It lead to a bunch of us frying poori last year, some for the first time!
This year we are experimenting with frying batata vadas, some of us for the first time! The motive, again, has been to cook and share with friends and family, and remind ourselves that a little indulgence is a good thing. And, of course, have some fun while we were frying!
This Independence Day (August 15) which was doubling for Raksha Bandhan, I was expecting my niecelet, my youngest sister’s daughter, to come and tie rakhi on the son’s hand. My younger sister and her sons are also here on a visit. It was the perfect occasion to include some deep fried love. I did all the prep work before they arrived. The potatoes were mashed and ready to be made into balls, and the chutney was chilling in the fridge. Pav had been procured for anyone who fancied vada-pav.
The two-year old niecelet showed restraint in the face of temptation (motichoor ladoos) and made a quick job of the ceremony of tika-rakhi tying-offering sweets before reaching for her third ladoo of the day. In return for her sisterly affections, my son gave her a giant bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate (in addition to the promise of brotherly love, of course). That done, we all headed to the kitchen to get started on something we had been planning for weeks – batata vadas for tea!
In contrast to some of you who showed great restraint in your portioning, I went headlong into my army-portions! We fried 40 batata vadas (we’d made 60 balls, but…)! It served 9 adults and 2 children (the older nephew played spoil sport and wouldn’t partake…).
There are many traditional versions (no matter what Manisha may tell you). The recipe is easy to adapt so use it only as a rough guide. This is how my MIL taught me to…
For the potato mix:
1 kg (about 2lbs) potatoes, boiled
3/4 C peas (fresh or frozen)
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, smashed
fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
green chillies, chopped
2 t mustard seeds
1/2 t mild hing (asafoetida)
1 t turmeric
juice of 1-2 limes
For the batter:
1 t turmeric
1 t chilli (cayenne) powder (optional)
1/3t baking soda
2 t hot oil
oil for frying
Peel the boiled potatoes and mash them coarsely, such that knobs of potatoes remain. Heat 2 T oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cover immediately – this prevents the mustard from spluttering all over your kitchen. After the mustard has quietened, add hing and turmeric and stir. Add green chillies and garlic followed by the chopped onions. Stir till the onions turn transparent, and the raw smell has gone. Turn heat off. Blanch peas (if using fresh), or thaw frozen peas. Add all the ingredients to the mashed potatoes and mix. Taste for salt and tang – well salted with just a hint of lime. Make into small balls, about 3/4 inch in diameter.
Heat oil for frying while you prepare your batter. Take besan, turmeric, chilli powder, and salt in a bowl. Gradually mix in water to form a thick batter. When you are ready to start frying, add baking soda and mix. Add two teaspoons of the hot oil from the fryer and mix.
Pick the potato balls with your fingers, dip into the batter, shake off excess batter, and gently drop into hot oil (in a karahi or fryer). In a karahi, you will need to spoon over some hot oil so that the vadas are easy to handle when they are ready to be turned over. Fry till golden brown all around. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with coconut chutney, garlic chutney, or ketchup. This makes great finger food at any party.
PS: It is Janmashtmi today. Some feasting ideas, if you have already done the batata vadas first! Happy feasting!