I have had spent a fair amount of time in different cities in India before I did manage to settle down in Pune. My nomadic life during my initial days of career ensured that I would be entitled to have a moments of rendezvous with these cities and its streets. Streets is where the life is. The emerging skyscrapers, malls, movie-theaters, hotels may obfuscate the cultural ethos of the city many times but streets may unravel the mystery for you. In fact you may knowingly or unknowingly become a part of this mystery. A foodie’s life is unimaginable without a stint on streets.
Mysore or Mysuru was the city where it all began over a decade ago. I made a humble beginning of my not so glamorous IT career (they are never glamorous anyways) at this city that is located at the base of Chamundi Hills in the state of Karnataka. I with ten thousand other fresh graduates were placed in an IT company campus located at the outskirts of city for our training. We grappled in our lives as fledglings in such an immense organization. Surrounded with all amenities and comforts it was ironical how less we found ourselves indulging into those comforts and were clocking more and more hours at work with every passing week. With the hindsight I may find myself empathizing with the protagonist Mitch McDeere and his wife Abby of the Novel “The Firm” where he has immense riches at his disposal but little time to indulge into them. Before I give in further into the temptation of digression, let me pull myself back to the story that we started with.
While inside premises we were laced with monotony, having our days jammed with classroom trainings, labs, tests and re-tests and in nights we gulped down umpteen cups of caffeine to keep us awake during those hours that were spent revising the lessons. The only respite in all of this was a weekend where we would break out from shackles of boredom and step out of campus, board a crammed state transport bus or haggle with rude auto drivers to go to city, watch movies, explore streets and do things- some funny and some unfunny- let’s keep that aside for now as that would warrant a complete post in itself.
Those were the days when I fell for foods available on streets of Mysore. It’s been more than a decade now and despite my best effort my memory fails to recall names of those eateries, but what I do not need recollection of is the flavor and aroma of the food those joints would serve. Soft Mysore masala dosa laced with generous helping of red chutney, gentle aroma of filter coffee and the pleasant whiff of Mysore Pak still lingers in my olfactory memory. The savory taste of tangy rasam or the soft and spongy bonda still persists albeit faintly on my taste cells. For a gourmand like myself such arena offers a treat for sensory organs in form of scintillating aroma and incredible flavors. Each of these dishes are akin to having a unique experience in itself, however the one taste that is more closer to my taste cells has been one of Mysore Bonda also known as Mysore Bajji.
These crisp coated and softer inside roundels are a perfect tea time snack. The recipe in itself is pretty straight forward and does not require much preparation beforehand except the soaking time for Urad Dal. The only part that requires one to be watchful about is grinding the soaked dal. The consistency of batter should be smooth and thick that requires addition of water judiciously while grinding. The other ingredients must be roughly chopped and added to the batter which is then shaped in rounds and deep fried until the outer cover attains light brown color
Here I try to relive moments of happiness that I had acquired almost decades ago on the humble streets of Mysore. I hope you enjoy making these Bondas as much as I did.
- 150 grams Urad Dal (Black gram split and without skin)
- ¼th cup fresh coconut (chopped into small pieces)
- 8-10 curry leaves(roughly chopped)
- 2 green chilies finely chopped
- ½ inch ginger finely chopped
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- 10-12 black peppercorns(coarsely crushed)
- ¼th tsp asafoetida powder
- Cooking Oil
- Wash and clean Urad Dal. Soak it in enough water for 2 hours.
- Grind Urad Dal into thick and smooth paste (Use water judiciously so as not to make a runny paste)
- Add rice flour, asafoetida powder,crushed black pepper,green chilies, chopped coconut,Chopped ginger, chopped curry leaves and Salt to taste.Mix all the ingredients.
- Meanwhile heat oil in a pan for deep frying bondas. Apply some water on palms.Shape the portion of batter into round shape.Fry bondas in medium hot oil.We will fry bondas till they become light brown.
- As bondas turn brown remove it from oil.Fry in batches.
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