Padwal fritters – Pathare Prabhu style Fried Snake Gourd Snack


I love my seafood and non vegetarian food. Yet, there are those few days, when Pathare Prabhu households turn vegetarian. Every Monday, each Chaturthi of the Hindu month, Navratri, Ganpati and a few days of Shravan are such occasions when even the most hardcore carnivores in our clan go cold turkey with non vegetarian food, albeit temporarily!

It’s funny how these mandatory vegetarian meals are prepared with elaborate attempts to make them resemble non vegetarian ingredients. For instance, typically on Ganesh Chaturthi, Parbhu households will cook ‘suran’ aka yam in a curry and try to make it as close to mutton godé as possible.

This recipe I’m sharing is usually reserved for a vegetarian Monday and is supposed to be a clever alternative to fried ‘karandi’ (small prawns)

Ingredients 

Padwal (Snake Gourd) – peel the exterior and slit in two halves lengthwise – discard all the inner fibrous bits and chop into ½ cm pieces.


Salt to taste

Haldi, Red chilli powder, Prabhu Sambhar (or any garam masala) to suit your appetite for heat.

Rice flour for dusting

Oil to deep fry

Method

Heat oil in a kadai over a medium flame – if your oil reaches smoking point, the gourd will burn and turn bitter. If it isn’t hot enough, this will absorb a lot of oil and again ruin the dish. The perfect ambient temperature is key!

Add salt to the slit padwal and let it rest a minute. Drain off any excess water that seeps out. However, do this step only last minute – if you leave the salt on for too long, the gourd will lose a lot of moisture and again, the texture’s ruined.

Add the powdered masalas and mix well till all the gourd bits are coated. Next, quickly dredge these in a plate of dry rice flour.


This is what the ready to fry gourds will look like.

Next, dunk these into hot oil and deep fry for around 4-5 minutes over a medium flame.


Once done, drain off any excess oil over tissues.

Serve immediately with a hot mound of ambemohar rice, plain yellow varan and a generous dollop of homemade lonkadhi tuup! 

Also makes an interesting vegetarian snack for a party. Goes really well with a drink.

Keshri Bhaat – the ubiquitous Parbhi sweet for auspicious occasions.

Gudi Padwa, Akshay Trutiya, Vijaya Dashami and Kartik Pratipada are revered as auspicious days in Hindu belief and celebrated as साडे तीन मुहूर्त in Marathi tradition.

On each of these days Parbhi households, go against traditional Marathi convention (as usual) cook mutton for lunch!

Curiously, the spicy meat and potato stew is accompanied by a sweet rice pulao called Keshri Bhaat. This recipe is more strikingly similar to a Muslim style Zarda Pulao than its Maharashtrian cousin ‘Naarali Bhaat’.


Ingredients 

1 cup fragrant long grained rice (basmati)

2 and ½ cups full fat milk

1 cup grain sugar

1 tbsp desi ghee

2 Cloves, a stick of Cinnamon and 2 Cardamoms

A generous pinch of saffron 

½ tsp of cardamom and nutmeg powders

Raisins and Chopped Nuts to garnish

Method 

Heat ghee in a nonstick pan and add the whole spices. Splutter for a minute.


Add washed and drained basmati and tip into the ghee. Sauté on a slow flame for 3-4 minutes.


Simultaneously, add saffron to the milk and bring it to a boil


Add the boiling milk to the rice, cover and cook on a low flame till the rice is done. You may want to give it an occasional stir to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom.


Once the rice is cooked and is soft and fluffy, add the sugar and let it melt on a low flame. Cover and cook till all the moisture is completely absorbed in the rice.


Add the nutmeg and cardamom along with chopped nuts / raisins as desired.


Cook further till the cooked rice looks nice and glossy! 

Serve with a spicy mutton curry – or if you think that’s too radical, have it as dessert. You may want to make this more of a calorie bomb by crushing a couple of malai pedas over the rice while it’s still hot and watch them melt into little fatty puddles of goodness into the sticky rice!