Monsoon, piping hot food and good books, are all synonymous. Nothing else makes Monsoon as enjoyable as some freshly made masala tea and some spicy fritters. Its that time of the year when we all want to be home and enjoy the shower and the weather in our cosy corners.
The recipe that I am going to share today fits this picture perfectly without being too heavy in terms of spices and oil. So if you are looking for something guiltfree and healthy to serve along with the evening cuppa to your family, then this could be your answer.
Vegetable chop is a very popular snack all over Bengal and mostly were a winter affair. But now that beets and carrots are available the year around they have suddenly become omnipresent. Go to any parar cha er dokan or misti’r dokan (local tea shop or sweet shop) you will get this pure vegetarian variety (no onion garlic) of these chops.
When we were growing up eating out was not much popular atleast not in our small town. And we hardly had any shop seling quality food. There were some Mishti’r Dokan but they hardly sold anything savory. We have always seen Maa making something for bikeler jolkhabar which could loosely be translated to after school snack. She is an avid cook and tried various types of dishes. Chowmein, chops, telebhaja (dep fries), idli dhokla were quite common for us.
For some strange reason I always liked the homemade version of these chop more than its store bought counterparts. And now when my son needs to carry a snack box to school these are made quite often at home too. A healthy and surely tasty way of enjoying vegetables. I make it a point to prepare these in large quantities, make the chops and fredge them in air tight containers or under plastic wrap. With these stashed in the fridge entertaining sudden guests is so hassle free.
Potato: 4 medium
Beetroots: 2 medium
Carrot: 2 large
Green peas: ½ cup
Peanuts: ¼ cup
Grated ginger: 2 tbsp
Green chillies: 2 (or more depending how spicy you like it)
Raisins: handful; soak in water for 15-20 minutes
For the bhaja masala:
Cumin: 1 tsp
Coriander seeds: 1 tsp
Fennel seeds: ½ tsp
Dry chilies: 2 pieces
Corn flour: 4-5 tbsp
Bread crumb ¾ cup
Wash the potatoes and cut in half. peel and cut the beet and carrot in ½” cubes. Place everything in a pressure cooker with 1 cup water and salt. Cook on medium for 1 whistle. Let the steam dissipate in itself. Open the lid and still warm peel the potatoes and mash with a potato masher or with the back of a flat bottom bowl. Mash till smooth. Cover and keep aside.
In another bowl mash the vegetables along with the peas. Let it be coarse so that we get little bite in the chops. Keep aside.
While the veggies were boiling lets make the bhaja masala. Dry roast them on low heat till they are dark and toasty. Do not burn them, try to stir continuously. Powder this in the dry grinding jar. Keep aside.
In the same pan dry roast the peanuts on very low flame till they are nutty and toasty. Remove and crush lightly in mortar and pestle. If you get skinned and halved nuts use that.
Heat 2 tsp oil and add the panchforom and chopped chillies. Once they start to splutter add the grated ginger or paste along with a pinch of salt which will prevent it from stickig to the pan. Once you get the nice aroma add the mashed vegetables. Mix and adjust seasoning. Keep on cooking till the extra juice of the veggies are cooked and the mash looks dry(approx. 3-4 minutes). Add the potato and mix thotoughly. Adjust the salt and cook for a minute. Remove from heat and once it cools down a bit add the bhaja masala, raisins (which would swell by now) and nuts. Mix thoroughly.
Now take a handful of this mixture and press between your palms and make oblong shaped chops. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Now make a thin batter with the corn flour and 1/3 cup water.
Dip the chops in it to moisten the outside which will help the breadcrumbs to stcik easily.
Sread the crumbs on a flat plate and roll the moistened chops on it. Be sure you are covering all its side including the side tips. Place on a buttered paper.
If not frying right away save them in a flat fridge safe box. . If you plan to place chops one on another place a butter paper in between.
Its always better to fridge them for an hour.
To fry just heat enough oil to immerse the chops and bring it to smoking hot. Decrease the flame to medium low and fry them in small batches till they are golden brown on the sides.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on absorbent paper.
Serve hot with sauce or ketchup or any dip of your choice. In shops they generally serve it with thinly sliced salad of cucumber and onion.
A Homemakers Notes:
you can also add little pieces of coconut. cut in real small bits and add to the pan just after frying the panchforon. cook for a minute on low and then proceed.
sometimes I also dip them in lightly beaten egg rather than corn flour batter.
you can also add fried cashews, chopped corianders or other vegetables like cauliflower etc.
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