Pangoji – Pathare Prabhu style fritters

I’m yet to come across recipes for high-tea/evening snack recipes as varied or elaborate as those in Pathare Prabhu households. 

The reason for this meal being so important to us is quite simple… Right from the times of the British Raj  our ancestors  were working professionals. 

This usually involved an early morning commute from their residence to the business district and the family had very little time for an elaborate breakfast.

The first meal of the day was part of lunch – some rice with dal/sabji and a fish prep on the side (this was prevalent even in my home where mom-dad had dal-rice and fish before the 9.14 local from Andheri to Churchgate). 

The entire family got back together only in the evening – parents back from office, kids from school and grandparents from their evening stroll.  They needed these snacks to keepthem  going till dinner time…

This is one such calorie laden recipe which is now the occasional Sunday treat at our home..

Like most traditional recipes, each family has their own favourite version. I’ve tweaked my Aai and Aaji’s recipe slightly and am quite happy with the results. 

The recipe is very simple but not a quick fix… The batter needs to rest for 2-3 hours or overnight in the fridge before it can be fried. 

Here goes…

Ingredients

2 cups wholewheat flour (Atta / कणीक)

1/2 cup small prawns or karandi (my favourite) or large prawns chopped in bits

1 small grated unpeeled (raw) potato 

1/2 tsp methi seeds – toast on a tawa and crush 

1/2 tsp jeera – toasted and crushed 

6-8 peppercorns – toasted and crushed

1 green chilli – finely chopped

1/2 tsp haldi 

Salt to taste

   
  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl adding a little water to make a dropping consistency batter.  
Leave this in the refrigerator overnight and remove only when you want to fry them.

  
Fry spoonfuls of the batter in hot oil on a medium flame (they tend to absorb a lot of oil if the oil isn’t heated enough)

   Remove once golden (around 5-7 minutes on a medium flame) and drain on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

They ought to be golden coloured, crunchy on the outside and well cooked spongy all the way to the centre.

Serve hot with some chutney / ketchup accompanying some chilled beer on a hot summer afternoon!

  

Kolambi Batatyachi Curry

I really like to think of this recipe as my own invention – although it was put together one Sunday when I had an 11 am movie to catch and didn’t really feel like eating lunch outside! Influenced by 2-3 different kinds of curries we make with very simple ingredients and oh so easy to put together.

I love to have this with pau- especially on those lazy Sunday mornings when you don’t really want to make an elaborate spread. 

Doesn’t really qualify as a PP recipe…

Ingredients (4 portions)  

2 potatoes – peel and roughly dice – apply a lil turmeric powder and salt and fry them till cooked and golden. 
1/2 tsp each of sesame and poppy seeds  

1 tsp of coriander seeds

1 large sliced/chopped onion

( fry these 3 till brown in half tsp oil)

1/2 cup grated fresh coconut 

10-12 cashewnuts

2 tsp of ginger-garlic paste

Grind these to a fine paste using a tsp of vinegar and some water as required.

  
1 small chopped tomato

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1cup shelled and deveined medium to large prawns (marinate in some red chilli powder and a tsp of ginger garlic paste and set aside for 20-30 mins)

  
1/2 tsp methi seed

Pinch of hing 

1 tbsp of wholewheat flour (atta)

Method 

Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a non stick pan, add in hing and methi seeds. Fry for a minute and once the methi’s fragrant, add the flour and sauté for a min or two till brown.

  
 Add the masala paste and powdered masala – sauté till it starts to leave the sides.

  
 Add the tomato and 2 cups of water along with the fried potatoes and bring the mix to a bubbling boil.

The atta will thicken your curry… Boil down or add water to bring it to the consistency you like. Season with salt and half a tsp of sugar (I add sugar to all my savoury recipes and salt to almost all my sweet ones)

Last add in the prawns and cook for around 2-3 minutes till they curl up and cook.    
Serve the potato and prawn curry with pau (my favourite) or bhakri /chapati /rice.

  

पारल्याची आजी and her करंदी pie

lot of PP recipes popular in my Aaji’s time were influenced by western cooking techniques. This indianised version of the shepherd’s pie using local ingredients is one such example. 


Karandicha Pie was usually the treat that awaited me when I visited Parlyachi Aaji (my naani) right after school (which was a 10 min walk from her place). I often make mine as a convenient non fried starter.

Aaji’s version was made in an old gas top oven – which looked somewhat like this – the pic is courtesy a friend (Asmita Rane) who is the lucky owner of one such heirloom!

  

I make mine in a conventional OTG…

Ingredients 
Potatoes – 4 medium (boil, peel and mash – dry out any excess moisture)
Red Onions – 3 large chopped fine
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Parbhi Sambhar – 1 tsp (alternately use a tsp of garam masala powder)
Hing – 1 pinch
Jeera – 1/2 tsp for tadka and 1/2 tsp roasted and mixed in mash
Prawns (or karandi I.e tiny shrimp if you’re fond of it like me) – 1 cup shelled and deveined

In case you’re wondering- this is what karandi or baby shrimp looks like –

  

Egg – 1 yolk
Oil – 2-3 tbsp
Salt to taste

For the filling – 

Heat oil in a nonstick kadai, add a pinch of Hing and half a tsp of jeera wait till they splutter and add the chopped onions with a pinch of salt and sauté till translucent.

Add turmeric, red chilli powder and PP sambhar powder.

Add boiled peas and chopped prawns and cook on a high flame. Dry out completely so that there’s no excess moisture taking care that you keep stirring so that the onions and masala do not burn.

For the pie crust

Season the potato mash with salt, crushed jeera, red chilli powder, Haldi and Sambhar (garam masala powder)

In a well greased baking dish, put in half the seasoned potato mash and arrange in an even layer.

 

Top with the filling and spread evenly.

Cover with an even layer of the remaining half of the seasoned mashed potatoes.  

Pour a tsp of oil and spread over the top of the lined pie.

Bake at 180 degrees in a preheated oven for around 20 minutes or till browned on top.

  

Brush with a beaten egg yolk and bake further for a minute or too till glazed.

Cool and cut in squares. Serve at room temperature with chutney or ketchup.​

 

Bhujane – Gholiche 

This is my favourite food. I’ve had as long as I can remember!

Bhujane (भुजणं) – is the Pathare Prabhu staple and every PP’s comfort food / go-to dish. Ready in a jiffy and tasty like you can’t imagine till you’ve had it!

It’s the simplest recipe ever and needs ingredients available readily in every Indian home… Although the perfect bhujane is only something your mother/grandmother makes. As much as you’d like it’s impossible to replicate the taste of a bhujane made with love and gobbled up with a mound of steaming white rice at the end of a long tiring day.

Here’s how you can fix some for yourself –

Chop an onion as fine as you can and add it to the pan you’re cooking your bhujane in…

To this add 2 tablespoons of crushed garlic (crushed to a paste), salt to taste, a chopped up green chilli, a handful of chopped coriander, half a tsp of haldi and 2 tsp of red chilli powder and a healthy glug of oil (around 3 tbsp)

Now crush these together with your fingertips till the entire mix is a homogeneous paste. This is critical as if you don’t mix the ingredients together sufficiently – the resultant curry will be a runny mess rather than the perfect gel it ought to be.

Now slide in your Ghol fish pieces and coat them in the masala

 

Add just enough water to cover the fish pieces (around 1/2 cup) and being this to a boil on a medium flame.

 

As soon as its bubbling, turn the heat down, cover and cook the mix on a  slow flame for around 4-5 minutes.

Remove the lid and without stirring with a spoon, tilt and turn the vessel so that the oil and the rest of the mix comes together.

 

This is critical as any stirring could break the fish… At this point, switch off the flame and let the curry cool down a bit.

Serve without reheating at room temperature with steaming hot white rice.

चिंबोरीचं खडखडलं! The Crab Curry you cannot resist…

I’ve always wondered why such a regal dish has such a strange name… Aaji used to tell us it had to do with the sound the shell made against the vessel while being cooked which seems like a plausible explanation.

There’s 2 kinds of crab we commonly get around Mumbai. There are the sea crabs referred to in PP lingo as होरी (hori)

and then there are the tastier and more expensive ones , the mud crabs or चिंबोरं (chimbori)

Note the shape of the upper shell carapace. This is a female chimbori and in all probability is filled with ‘Laakh’ or bright orange coloured roe… This bit I think makes it worthwhile to buy the female crab (मादी) over the male (नर) which is fleshier but (obviously) has no roe!!!

The khadkhadle experience begins with buying the chimbori in the first place…

The koli (or more likely the Kolin) will try and convince you that they were out all night risking their life trying to catch one… But the carnivore in you’s gotta persevere and stick to a rate. The fisherfolk’ll be nice enough to break the pincers (फांगडे) for you… Once that’s done, the rest of the cleaning process happens at home (slaughter included… If you’re weak willed, stop reading NOW).

So once you got the squiggly-wigglies home, don a pair of rubber gloves and  carefully break away a leg at a time… At the end, you should be left with two piles looking like this – you want to rinse these off under running water using a toothbrush to get rid of any muck residue on the shell.

Unlike a restaurant or many other people I know, our prep just involves cutting these into half and getting rid of the sandbag (entrails) of the crab… And they’re ready to use…

The rest of the recipe is fairly simple…

For around 5-6 large sized crabs, you will need

3 heaped tbsp of garlic paste

1 pinch of Hing

1 tsp haldi powder

1 tbsp red chilli powder

1 tbsp PP sambhar powder

1/2 cup oil

Salt to taste and water as reqd

Method

Heat oil preferably in a brass vessel add a pinch of hing.

Once it splutters, add the salt, dry spices and , cook till the raw smell goes away (a minute)

Add crabs and a bit of water and cook covered on a medium flame till the shells change colour to a bright orange.

Serve this salty spicy connoisseur’s bliss with plain rice and watch the partaking people demolish endless mounds of rice… You just won’t know when to stop!

Konfal Pattice

Konfal aka purple yam is a tuber popular among the #pathareprabhu clan as fasting food… 

The texture is quite unlike a potato or sweet potato and the flavour’s pretty unique too.

 I usually pressure cook the whole yam – cut into chunks and devour them with salt and fresh coconut chutney – this is my favourite fasting food and occasional breakfast… 

This particular recipe I’m posting here doesn’t qualify for upvaas ( it has peas and coriander)… But it’s a family favourite nevertheless.

The added advantage of using this yam to cover a stuffing for pattice – you can’t go wrong!! The starch content is so high – they’ll never disintegrate unlike say a potato…

These make a wonderful crisp on the outside – delicious on the inside snack… 

Ingredients 
1/2 kg purple yam or कोनफळ 
2 medium potatoes
2 slices of bread
1 green chilli 
1 tsp jeera

For the filling 
1 cup shelled green peas
2 medium sized chopped onions 
1 cup chopped coriander 
1 cup grated fresh coconut 

Salt and sugar to season and oil for frying

Method

Pressure cook the yam and potatoes (1 whistle and 10-12 minutes), peel and grate, add salt and a chopped chilli.


Soak the bread slices in water for a minute and squeeze dry. Crumble and mix into the mashed potato yam mix. Add a tsp of jeera.

Knead for a minute and add a few drops of oil. Divide into 20 equal balls and set aside.

Heat a tsp of oil in a nonstick pan, add a pinch of hing and 1/2 tsp jeera… Add chopped onion and once translucent, add boiled peas, grated coconut and chopped coriander. Season, Mix well and roughly mash together.

Stuff each mash ball with a portion of stuffing and deep fry / pan fry till golden brown.

Serve hot with some green chutney or ketchup

  

कोलंबीचे लोणचे – story of the Pathare Prabhu Prawn Pickle!

Now this was one of the first edibles Manju and I ever ‘sold’!

  

This is a delicious fresh pickle. You may choose to finish it the day you make it or leave it in your fridge for a month picking out tiny portions to savour on the side with simple varan bhaat for those days when you feel too lazy to cook an elaborate meal and yet feel like something चमचमीत!

The recipe like all PP recipes is fairly simple and straightforward! Doesn’t take more than 15-20 minutes once all your ingredients are sorted… This recipe should result into 200-220 gms of pickle or a fill a small sized jam jar.

Ingredients 

Medium sized White Prawns – 30 nos

Garlic paste – 1/2 cup (around 100gms garlic pods crushed to a paste)

Haldi – 1 teaspoon

Kashmiri red chilli powder- 1 heaped teaspoon

Parbhi Methkut – 1 heaped teaspoon

This is a tricky one to find – not really available at a store and is made just by those few families which cater to most Pathare Prabhu households. Refer to the packet at the top right corner of this pic.

If you don’t have this, you may use any commercially available Maharashtrian style mango pickle masala (popular brands are Bedekar and केप्र) 

Oil – around 1/2 to 3/4 cup (it’s a pickle after all… )

Lemon juice – squeeze out if 1 and 1/2 nimbus

Sat to taste

Method

Deshell and devein the Prawns and rinse gently in water one single time (or scrub the hell out of them and hold under running water till you lose all the precious flavour) 

Remove on an absorbent paper and pat away excess moisture.

collect the prawns in a bowl, season them with a little salt and all the haldi. Set aside for 5 minutes.

  

Heat oil in a kadai. Once hot, slide in the prawns and fry them till cooked. Use individual preference to gauge when you want to stop cooking these. If you want to preserve your pickle (longest I’ve kept in a refrigerator is for a month) longer, fry the prawns for a longer time… You could bring them to a point where they turn out crisp and devoid of moisture – these will take the masala longer to steep into the prawn and means it can be had only after resting it a couple of days.

If consuming immediately, fry only to the point that they’re completely cooked and the prawns are ready to go into your masala.

  

Set aside the fried prawns and in the same kadai, add all the crushed garlic. Cook the paste till that raw garlic smell is gone, taking care that the mix doesn’t brown.

Turn off the flame and add the powdered masala and add back the fried prawns.

Adjust the seasoning and cool the pickle completely.

Squeeze in the lime juice and mix well. Your pickle is ready to eat.

  

My first attempt at Kolkata Biryani

The components required to construct the Biryani –

1. Garam Masala

2. Potato

3. Rice

4. Chicken (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 breast pieces cut in half) 

Garam Masala Powder

1 tbs cumin seeds (Shah Jeera)

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs black pepper

1 tbs white pepper

2 or 3 black cardamom

7 or 8 green cardamom

1 whole nutmeg 

2 whole mace (javetri flower)

5 or 6 whole cloves

1 inch cinnamon stick

  

Dry roast on a tawa/pan and grind – sieve through a muslin cloth. The above spices will yield probably enough for 2-3 times you make the Biryani.

Potatoes 

 Peel 4 medium sized potatoes, cut in half and fry them over a high flame in some oil till the outside is golden and seared… Doesn’t need to be cooked through at this point.

  

Rice 

2 cups of fine quality Basmati Rice (I used India Gate aged rice which they claim is less sticky – I was very happy with the outcome but any old long grained basmati should work just as fine)

Wash the rice and soak in water for around 30 minutes

Heat about 6-7 cups of water with plenty of salt till it comes to a rolling boil. Add a tsp of ghee, a few drops of lemon juice,  couple of green cardamoms, peppercorns and cloves – continue to boil for 4-5 minutes.

Add the soaked rice and cook till almost done. Drain off the excess water (reserve a cup of liquid) and cool the rice. Sprinkle a generous pinch of the garam masala powder and gently mix into the rice with a few drops of kewra water. 

This drainage method and addition of ghee ensures that the rice grains stay separate in addition to giving the rice nice and fragrant.

   

   

Soak a generous of saffron strands in half a cup of milk and set aside

Other Components 

Onions 

1 onion to be sliced really fine and fry to a golden brown birista 

2 onions sliced roughly and fried to a golden pink

Chicken 

Trim off excess fat and make deep gashes into the chicken pieces, rub in half a tsp of the garam masala powder with 3-4 tbsp dahi, salt to taste, marinate and set aside for 30-40 minutes.

In a non stick pan, heat a tsp oil, add chicken pieces and sear off on a high flame till brown.

Add another tsp of oil, add the roughly sliced pink onions, 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and a cup of dahi, add 2 tsp of red chilli powder and a tsp of the ground garam masala powder. Add a handful each of chopped mint and coriander leaves. Add salt to taste

Cook these for a few minutes and strain this – grind the residue in a blender till smooth.

Mix this paste with the browned chicken pieces. 

   

 

Assembling the Biryani 

Coat a thick bottomed pan with a tsp of ghee till the vessel is coated

Arrange the potatoes at the bottom

Add a layer of the chicken pieces and the masala paste

   

   

Arrange one thirds of the rice in a layer over the chicken

Add one third of the rice colored with the soaked saffron 

Finally, add the last one third of the rice mixed with the birista

Add half a cup of the reserved rice cooking liquid and sprinkle a tsp of kewra water over the top

Cover the vessel with a tight lid sealing the edges with atta dough

Cook over a low flame for 1 hour and rest for 30 minutes thereafter

Served these with a boondi raita and tomato-onion kachumber… Cholesterol laden bliss!

   

 

 Bilimbachi Sheer

Averrhoa Bilimbi (बिलिंब in Marathi) is an exotic sour fruit – the Pathare Prabhu clan uses this to make a curry that goes by the name बिलिंबाची शीर. The bilimbi may be replaced by any fruit / veggies (tomato / grapes / pineapple). Here goes the recipe –

Ingredients

Coconut Milk – 2 cups Grated coconut – grind with one cup of water and squeeze and strain out thick extract, grind the residual coconut with one two cups of water, squeeze and strain again to yield thin extract

Besan – 2 heaped tablespoons to be dissolved in the thin coconut extract

1/2 tsp each of hing and haldi

1 tsp each of red chilli powder and Pathare Prabhu Sambhar (may be replaced with a garam masala powder)

10-12 ripe bilimbi chopped roughly

1 small onion – chopped roughly

Salt and Sugar to season

Method

Add the chopped fruit and onion in a vessel, cook in a little water with the hing, haldi, chilli and sambar (no oil) till done.

Once cooked, add the besan dissolved in thin extract and mix well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes till the slurry thickens and there is no raw residual smell of the besan. Season with salt and sugar to your taste.

Add the thick extract and take off the flame.

Serve at room temperature with a spicy pickle and steaming white rice.

PS – the pic has the original recipe from गृहिणी मित्र (first version published circa 1910) – from my 1948 version of the book.

 Kolambi/Karandiche Hirwe Kalwan

Just like the earlier shiryache post, this is a fairly simple and utterly delicious coconut curry. It’s a Pathare Prabhu staple and apart from prawns (kolambi/karandi) variations can be made with egg or you could choose to keep it vegetarian.

Personally, I prefer the version with karandi (small prawns) in it.

This recipe serves around 6 people if you are having it as a side and have a main course to go with it.

It will easily serve 4 people if you are serving it on it’s own. I love eating this with fresh pav. But it goes well with chapatis/steamed rice too.

Ingredients –

1 Grated Coconut –  roughly 3 cups

Shelled and cleaned prawn (kolambi/karandi) – 1 cup

Juice of 1 Lemon

Rice – 1 tbsp (washed and soaked in water)

Garlic – 5-6 cloves

Coriander leaves – 1 small bunch (cleaned and washed)

Salt to taste

Hing – A pinch

Oil – 1 tbsp

1. Grind together a cup of grated coconut, garlic, coriander, soaked rice and salt to a chutney and set aside.

2. Use the balance 2 cups coconut to extract coconut milk. Start with a cup of water for the thick extract and then 2 cups water for the thin extract

3. Heat the oil in a deep vessel and add hing. Once it splutters, add the ground green chutney and saute for a minute over a medium flame

4. Add the thin extract (2 cups) and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cover it and simmer over a low flame for 2 minutes. (I usually boil some prawn heads in the thin extract – find that the flavour’s better without having to overcook the prawns)

.

5. Add the prawns in at this point and the thick extract . Stir this in and cook uncovered for a minute or two untill the prawns are cooked. (After the thick extract is added, the flame needs to be low. Thick extract requires gentle cooking. If it boils over post this point, the curry tends to have a split appearance and texture… Doesn’t really impact the taste!)

6. Take it off the flame and let it cool down a bit. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning.

This needs to be served at room temperature with steaming hot rice or warm with pav.