Thursday, 13 November 2014

MY STREET FOOD STORIES SERIES - EATING LIKE A NATIVE

AlooDum-DahiBara-Ghugni (PotatoCurry-Savoury Crispy Fritters Soaked in Yogurt-Dried Yellow Peas Cooked in a Spicy Gravy) :


This is a very popular street food, had as a snack mainly in the Eastern part of India and also in Pakistan. However in Pakistan this particular mix of elements on a single platter may not be available as this particular way of presenting the snack is indigenous to the Eastern Part of India.

The Savoury Crispy Fritters made with lentils, doused in yogurt are placed in the well of the ingeniously woven leaf plate, then the potato curry layered on it and another layer of the Spicy Dried yellow peas Curry thereafter. Then goes in the tangy spices like Chaat Masala, Roasted Chilli n Cumin Powder, finally topped with Fresh coriander leaves, chopped red onions & Crunchy Chickpea-Flour Noodles.

The result my dear friends is a super explosion of sharp heightened flavours which can only be gulped in without any stop in between. I really miss the irresistible relish that the street food vendor in India rustle up with this peerless snack.
This Snack remains on my must do list whenever I visit the Eastern part of India. On one such visit with a salivating tongue and immense self control, I managed to pull out my mobile phone from my sling bag, waiting those precious seconds to click this picture before I could plunge into this zesty goodness.

The Crispy Fritters which are made with lentils in this case black gram / urad dal is first ground into a coarse paste, seasoned and then using a leaf which is greased lightly with oil , a blob of the batter is placed on the greased leaf and given the round shape of the fritter. The oiled leaf acts as a mould shaping the fritters perfectly without causing much mess or without sticking to the fingers. This is a simultaneous process where glibly you scoop out the batter, shape it on the leaf and then gently place it in the hot oil in the wok shaped deep cooking pot called Karahi. The fried fritters once nice and done, are taken out of the hot oil and put in water which is at room temperature before dousing them with thick yogurt. By doing this the fritters absorb the flavoured yogurt well and become so soft and delicious that you can practically melt them with your fingers. The yogurt is flavoured with ground roasted dry red chillies and cumin. Many more elements can be added to enhance the zesty quotient of the yogurt but these two are the basics and must add in. However in this particular street snack the yogurt is not as thick as in the Traditional Dahi Vada recipe. That's precisely because other components like the spiced potato curry and the dried yellow peas curry have to be added and the taste that they want to come across is from each item of this mix and not let any particular element dominate.

The recipes of these individual components like Dahi Vada, Aloo Dum and Ghugni will be dealt with in detail in later blogs. For now I would like to put forth that the Aloo Dum / Potato Curry has a spicy gravy with generally fried potatoes, cooked to perfect tenderness in this radiant looking curry with oil lavishly oozing out. The traditional Dum technique where the food is cooked in a sealed container and cooks in its own steam is definitely not followed by the street food vendors as the dum cooking takes time and they need to produce baches of all the three elements that go into this snack quickly to load in their mobile food carts and start the day's business.

The yellow dried peas curry / Ghugni is cooked in a slightly milder curry and adds an altogether different taste to the snack. Ghugni on its own is a very popular snack in India where different variants like dried white peas or black gram instead of dried yellow peas is also used to cook in a piquant gravy and served with chopped red onions , fresh coriander, puffed rice , crispy chickpea flour noodles normally and sometimes with hot crisp onion fritters/pakoda. In India there is no limit to the variations a single dish can assume and therefore the readers are requested not to imagine that this dish can be confined to only these mentioned components.

As I have already spoken how this snack takes you to a crescendo of tanginess leaving your gut full but your heart longing for more, I would definitely like to add here that if you want to relish this snack in all its splendor it is recommended that you try only from the Street Food Vendors as no matter how much the little neatly appointed eateries may try to put forth this snack I have always found their ineptness to get that amazing zest out of the dish.

So happy eating and I shall wait with excitement to be a part of your experience at one such Aloo Dum - Dahi Bara - Ghugni snacking episode.

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