Saturday mornings are when I prefer snuggling in the bed a little longer. However, last Saturday, my thin quilt could not keep me warmer and the overwhelming breeze from the ceiling fan moving at highest RPM meant that the room became too cold and I had to get up to switch off the fan. It is then, I realized that the coolness was due to the overcast condition that the morning sky had. I walked into the balcony, stood by the railing, gazing at the sky and admiring the gathering of dark clouds which indicated the imminent showers.
I hurriedly went into the kitchen and made cup of coffee for both of us. Missus had got up by then and made her way to balcony. It had begun to rain and she stood with her eyes closed, hands stretched outwards and rain droplets had settled down in her palms. I tapped her shoulder and passed her the cup of coffee. This was a perfect start to Saturday morning, a moment that would sweep your breath away. It reminded me of a beautiful verse from Sanober Khan’s poem “Turquoise Silence” “What’s a rainy day without some delicious coffee-flavored loneliness?” Miss Khan would enjoy her coffee alone with the gentleness of the rain. I would consider myself more fortunate to have a partner with whom I can share these moments that define the meaning of life and happiness.
Monsoon rains in Pune are mostly very gentle. It would be pleasant drizzle all the time but would hardly lash the city. They are in no means as lashing and brutal as witnessed in Mumbai. In Mumbai, I often feel that intense rains bring more destruction and problems than bringing respite. However, since this is not a political blog post I would rather not discuss about who’s to blame. This indiscriminate behavior of monsoon rains is akin to a mother being more partial to her younger one and little harsh to the elder sibling. We all may agree to disagree about the differing opinions that we may have for monsoons. We may either love the soothing effect that accompanies the rains or may hate them for the humidity and irritants like snarling traffic jams and disruption or normal life but we can all agree that monsoons brings with them a whole host of dishes that are best enjoyed during rains. One such recipe that deserves a mention is pakoda.
Pakoda is a gram flour dumpling which comes in several variants. It can either be made plain with salt, red chili powder, carom seeds and deep fried or it can be combined with several different vegetables to make different variations like gobi-pakoda (combined with cauli-flower), Kanda bhajia (Onions variation), mirchi pakoda (larger green chilies which are not spicy )or Paneer Pakoda (when combined with cottage cheese). Each of these variants is hugely popular, and is best enjoyed when served with garam-garam chai (hot tea). As it drizzled throughout Saturday, we decided to make Paneer Pakoda and gave it a slight twist by combining it with Barik Sev. This made the Pakodas even more and crispier. You can also make Pudina (mint) chutney that goes well with these pakodas.
So Folks, if you are craving to have some pakodas in these rains, and do not want to step out from the confines of your cozy abode to head towards your nearest tapri (small shops selling eatables), then why bother? Go for this simple to follow and easy to make recipe that will let you enjoy these rains from your balcony with your dear ones, as you share these joyous moments with them called life.
- 250 grams paneer (cottage cheese) cut into cubes of 1.5-2 inches cubes
- 100 grams besan (gram flour/chickpea flour)
- 100 grams barik sev
- 10-12 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsp red chili powder
- 1.5 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- A pinch of baking soda
- Cooking Oil
- To begin with, we will make garlic chutney.Grind garlic, red chili powder, lime juice, ½ tsp salt into a fine and thick paste.
- Ensure that consistency of garlic chutney is fine and thick. If it gets too thin it would be hard to make a stuffing of it.
- For batter, we will take gram flour. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, baking soda, salt as per taste. Add sufficient water to make a batter of medium thick consisitency.
- Break the barik sev by rubbing them between your palms.
- We will stuff paneer with garlic chutney. Make a slit into paneer pieces. Do not cut them into two pieces but only create a pocket.
- Stuff all the paneer pieces.Meanwhile heat oil in a pan for deep fry.
- Dip paneer cubes into batter and get them nicely coated.
- Now put the paneer in sev and coat it from all sides.
- Deep fry the coated paneer cubes
- Deep fry the Paneer cubes until it becomes golden brown from all sides.
- Repeat the process for remaining paneer cubes.
- Sprinkle some chaat masala on top of paneer pakoda. Serve it with mint chutney
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