When I was a kid, if anyone had asked me what my favorite finger food was, (actually the term finger food wasn't yet coined) I probably would have said Tater Tots. I know, Tater Tots are actually supposed to be eaten with a fork, but in my house they counted as a finger food. At least when my mother wasn't looking they did. Nothing was better than tossing a nice puffy hot chunk of tater into my eleven year old maw. Or against the wall. Splat. Tater Tot War. Also when my mother wasn't looking.
Well I've outgrown Tater Tots but like many first loves, they still hold a fond place in my heart. So when I was planning my birthday party this year, l have to admit, I was looking for the Indian equivalent. I found them, and their name is called Bonda. Bonda are a South Indian snack, sometimes sweet but more often savory. They can be stuffed with anything from vegetables in all varieties, to spicy mashed potatoes. They had me at potatoes.
This easy tasty snack food consists mainly of spiced, mashed potatoes rolled into balls, dipped in a batter of spices and chickpea flour (yes, these are gluten free!) then fried. The filling can be made ahead, then they can be prepared ahead of time and kept warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to be served.
Indian Potato Fritters
Here's What You Need:
4 russet potatoes
4 green serrano chilies seeded and finely chopped
A 1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
salt to taste
2 large onions finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
oil for frying
3 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 dried red chili cut in half
6 curry leaves
2 cups of chickpea flour (besan flour)
2 tsp of Kashmiri chili (1/2 tsp paprika mixed with 1/2 tsp of cayenne)
water as needed
Here's What To Do:
Boil the potatoes in their peels.
Let them cool, then peel, mash them and set them aside.
Heat 3 tsp of unsalted butter.
When the butter is hot, toss in the mustard seeds, urad dal, the halved red chili,and the curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the finely chopped green chilies, ginger and onions.
Cook everything down for about 3 minutes or so.
Add in the mashed potato...
...salt to taste , turmeric
and chopped cilantro.
Cook everything together for another 3 minutes or so, until it's all blended. Take the pan off the heat, set it aside and let it cool.
Shape the potato mixture into balls. There should be about 10 to 15 of them.
Set the potato balls aside.
Now it's time to make the batter:
In a large bowl, mix together the chickpea flour, salt, chili powder and water.
Mix it all together until the batter hits dropping consistency. This is a matter of judgement. The batter should neither be too thick nor too thin.
It should be a bit thinner than this. Remember, if it's not working correctly, just thin it with a bit more water.
In a kadhai or deep skillet, heat the oil for deep frying. I used about 3 cups of vegetable oil.
When the oil is hot, dip a potato ball into the batter bowl.
Coat it and place it into the boiling oil. BE CAREFUL!
Let them float and cook in the oil until they're a toasty brown.
That's it. When you're ready, serve them up.
I served them with three different chutneys, a sweet hot Seeni Sambol, a firey hot cilantro and peanut chutney and a mild, cooling mint raita. A spread of several relishes and chutneys running the gamut from hot hot hot, to soothing cool is the perfect accompaniment for cute little potato bites.
They were super popular and in fact I doubled this recipe and still could have used a few more. As a friend said, "they're addicting". Even more addicting than Tater Tots!
Of course I had a birthday cake.
And it wouldn't be a party without presents. Alan gave me a set of All Clad cookware which was a total surprise. I thought he was going out on the deck to sneak a smoke when actually he was unloading them from a friend's car where they'd been hidden.
I guess I could have used some new stuff since I've been cooking with the same metal pots and pans I first bought when I left home at the age of 21 to move to LA. They're not going to be taking the place of my clay, which was the first thing that Paula Wolfert said when I opened the box (she has them too). It just feels nice to finally have Big Girl Pans and also to get punked by Alan!
Patsy had her own little party in a corner of the living room with her new friend Ryo.
Ryo was visiting from Japan with his dad and since he has an Akita there was a bonding over dog cookies and some sneaky cheese. He took a piece of birthday cake into a corner and Patsy literally ran after him. I've never seen her move so fast. If this doesn't look like the total picture of Cake Guilt I don't know what does.