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!

  

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.

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.

  

 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.

 

 

 

Bajirao Ghevda – The King of Beans

This is a traditional PP recipe using a very elusive ingredient (at least in Mumbai markets) called Bajirao Ghevda (बाजीराव घेवडा). Till a few years ago, this bean was relatively easier to find. This is available at a select few places and only a handful of vendors stock it in vegetable markets typically at Khar, Dadar, Vile Parle etc. I am told that it’s quite abundant in Alibaug. This veg is seasonal and is available only in the months of Jan – Feb at these places. The beans are broad which makes it easy to fill them with loads of stuffing. They are quite fleshy and have a lovely flavour of their own. You can taste them distinctly despite the stuffing. This is a pretty versatile recipe. You could replace the bean with Capsicum halves or Snake Gourd (पडवळ). Any fleshy veg with a cavity to hold stuffing works fine. Likewise, the filling may be varied each time you make this dish. FrJom a completely vegetarian filling, to chicken/mutton mince, prawns (कोलंबी or करंदी is what most PP homes would typically use.) Here’s what the bean looks like (This recipe is for around 12 beans – approx 4 portions)

Bajirao Ghevda

For the Stuffing –

3 medium onions – chopped fine

a handful of coriander leaves – finely chopped

Green Chillies – finely chopped

Salt to season

Red Chilli Powder – 1 tsp (you could add more if you want it hotter)

Pathare Prabhu Sambhar (I will do a separate post on this some day. Most PP homes make their own, there are a few people who sell this commercially but the distribution is restricted to PPs and those who have some PP connections/roots)

Coriander Powder – 1 tsp

Cumin Powder – 1 tsp

Prawns (If using कोलंबी, chop/break into bits. If it’s करंदी which in my opinion adds a lot more flavour, use whole.) – 1 Cup

Besan – 4 tbsp (This will vary depending on how much water leeches out of the onions when making the stuffing)

Method

Top and Tail the beans and open them out from one side to create a cavity for the stuffing. Set aside for now. Chop the onions, Coriander, chillies really fine and mix with a tsp of salt. Set aside for a couple of minutes till the onions leach out their moisture. At this point, add the besan and combine really well. Add all the powdered masalas and prawns to the mix. Check the seasoning and adjust the consistency of the stuffing with a little more water or besan. The stuffing must be of a dropping consistency (slightly thicker than pakoda batter.)

imageimage

Now stuff the mixture into each bean and place in a steamer. These will need to be steamed for around 15 minutes, till the beans as well as stuffing are cooked.

image image

Once the colour of the stuffing changes and the once running / dropping consistency mixture clings to the bean you’ll know it’s steamed.

image

Now shallow fry each one of these till they’re brown and crisp on either side. You could serve these with ketchup or green chutney as a starter.

Personally, I like these as an accompaniment to my meal of steaming hot rice with some mild shiryache (शिर् याचे)… A separate post on shiryache coming soon…

image

The Rambling Gourmet

I’m a self-confessed foodie juggling between my passion for food, cooking, all things culinary and my fulltime job! This blog is an attempt to chronicle my culinary experiments and thoughts around food.

I belong to an ingenious clan of Maharashtrians called the ‘Pathare Prabhus’.

The PP (Pathare Prabhu) community – native to Mumbai has a unique culinary tradition, which is quite unlike most Maharashtrian cooking. Unfortunately given the slowly diminishing number of PPs and our hectic urban lifestyles, this unique cuisine is growing rarer by the day.

My weekend experiments in the kitchen are not so surprisingly very heavily influenced by my PP roots and my 3 year stint at catering college (after which I competely digressed into financial services) many many years ago which triggered my interest in cooking and gave me a little understanding of cooking techniques.

I like to believe I’m fairly open to new tastes and attempt eating most things edible (although I draw a line at the squiggly wigglies on Bangkok streets).

I aspire to document whatever I know of our PP cuisine in addition to my clumsy attempts in my home kitchen.  I’m hope this space helps me to connect with like minded foodies and helps me along my culinary journey!